The Arka Tech

Editorial: Higher education funding formula

This July, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced a 21st century funding formula for higher education. The formula is an outcomes-based system, in which factors like degree completion and reducing costs will be something universities will be rewarded for.

And our president, Dr. Robin Bowen, expressed her support of the Higher Education Productivity Funding Model. Arkansas News quoted her as saying, “the specific weights and measurements in the formula that have yet to be finalized and agreed upon will need to be transparent, easily understood and hold institutions to a fair and equitable standard. ‘This will need to be accomplished while simultaneously upholding academic standards.’ “
The fine-tuning of the model itself is in the works and final proposal is expected to be in 2017.

The Arkansas Department of Education shared the press release that reads, “the proposed…model…will place a higher priority on program completion than the previous formula. The proposal will now go before the legislature during the 2017 general session. If the measure is adopted, Arkansas will become only the fifth state to make significant progress toward funding higher education based on outcomes – joining Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio and Oregon.”

As it stands, Arkansas Tech University is a state-aided, not a state-funded, university. The idea of state aided and state funded can influence several different aspects of collegiate institutions, usually public and private universities.

Public universities get monetary aid from federal and state governments, have diverse student bodies and play to the strengths of one student over the other, usually because of degrees offered and the atmosphere kept on campus. Private institutions, on the other hand, usually forgo federal funding and sometimes even state funding.

Funding, though, being a key idea here. Federal aid for secondary education institutions has begun presenting itself in the form of direct aid to the students, as well as grants educators can apply for on an individual basis. But as a sort of branch of the state, universities are to receive subsidies to continue operating. This monetary aid allows schools to lower tuition costs, among other things. And as of the last few years, the Pew Trusts reports, “historically, states have provided a far greater amount of assistance to postsecondary institutions and students, percent more than the federal government on average from 1987 to 2012.”

What this means for Tech is proper funding under the rewritten guilde lines set forth by the state of Arkansas. Because funding is limited state wise, we as an institution will be able to keep up with other larger universities awarding degrees because of their large student population. Tech will also be able to continue to grow monetarily, which will help level out to the growth we are seeing in the student population, as well as the spike in degrees awarded.

In sum, it’s a trickle down effect we’re seeing.