New deal coming for Georgia colleges

University System of Georgia Schools, including Georgia State, might get a raise, or a pay cut, depending on how many students graduate.

Gov. Nathan Deal approved a framework, drafted by his Higher Education Funding Commission, to change state funding from enrollment numbers to graduation success by fiscal year 2015.

Businesses, Georgia Congress members and budget offices are included in the commission. A number of four year and technical schools have representatives from the University System of Georgia, including Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson, Dr. Ron Core of Georgia Southern and James Taylor, a University of Georgia Student. According to a 2011 announcement about the commission there are no members from Georgia State.

More than a year ago Deal assembled the commission to examine funding formulas of Georgia colleges and universities through an executive order.

“The current funding formula is based on student enrollment but not student completion,” Deal said in Oct. 2011, after the commission was formed. “It rewards institutions for increasing the number of students, but does not consider whether or not institutions are successful in educating those students. I want to incentivize college completion.”

The framework does not include the details of the formula that would decide how much money is awarded based on graduation rate. However, two-year Georgia Colleges will be graded differently; transfers and certificate programs will be considered a success.

“The current funding formula was put in place in 1981-82; much has changed over the past 30 years,” said John Millsaps, associate vice chancellor of media and publications for the Board of Regents. “The Governor has a great group at work on the funding formula. The University System is completely supportive of the Governor’s “Complete College Georgia” initiative, which seeks to increase Georgia’s college completion rates.”

Approximately 11 percent of Georgia’s budget and two-thirds of lottery funds go towards access to higher education, according to the Governor’s office.

Other states, like Tennessee, already base funding on graduation rates.

“Institutions are rewarded for admitting more students and keeping them enrolled as long as possible, not for ensuring that every student is making progress toward a degree and ultimately leaving with a credential that has value in the labor market,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam in a report to Time Magazine about ways to improve public education.

“In 2010, our state adopted a new model—one that funds institutions based on outcomes,” Haslam said. “While we continue to build on our efforts to raise educational attainment levels in Tennessee and make sure our workforce is prepared for a dynamic economy, other states are following suit and implementing performance-based funding models within their higher education systems.”

Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Washington all use performance to base funding to higher education.

Florida will base their funding on graduation rates in 2013.

Deal said the reason for the new allocation system is to prepare Georgian’s for a workforce that will demand an education. According to the Governor, 60 percent of available jobs will require a post secondary education by 2018.