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Changing The Money Flow For Higher Ed

A legislative committee is moving closer to proposing a bill that would change the way the state’s colleges and universities receive state funding.

The interim committee voted Tuesday at the state capitol for consultants and state higher education officials to put together a proposed formula based on performance instead of enrollment.

The formula would include a number of criteria for the individual colleges and universities. If those are met, the colleges and universities would receive more state funding.

The state’s 12 colleges and universities receive on average about 35 percent of their funding annually, $322 million, from the state and the funding is largely based on enrollment. Tennessee, for example, has a new formula that bases the funding on performance.

State Senator Education Committee Chairman Bob Plymale, D-Wayne, doesn’t believe performance-based funding would be a death knell to the colleges and universities.

"Every institution has more money than they had five years ago, 10 years ago, and they do get the larger percentage when they have an increase in enrollment," Plymale said.

Discussion Tuesday at the state capitol also focused on what the higher education institutions would do with students who need more development. Jefferson County Delegate John Doyle says some schools could partner with community and technical colleges to offer those classes to students.

"We have to decide do we or do we not want to try and get the four-year institutions out of the business of developmental as much as possible," Doyle said.

Wood County Del. Bill Anderson, a classroom teacher, says telling a student he or she would have to take classes at a community or technical college before going to WVU or Marshall may serve as a good incentive.

"I believe the students flowing into the universities will come in at a higher plane and will be able to accelerate into the future even more than they are today," Anderson predicted.

The interim committee will look at a funding proposal in November and could vote to propose it as a bill during next year’s regular session.

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