Vermont Mulls Performance-Based Funding
Legislature To Consider Proposal To Base Funding on Performance Metrics
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont is joining many other states around the country in considering the distribution of funds to its colleges and universities based on school and student performance.
A committee is developing a proposal to present to the Legislature and Gov. Peter Shumlin by Dec. 15. The committee includes the chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges, presidents of the University of Vermont and Vermont Student Assistance Corp. and the state administration secretary.
Thirty-two states have funding formulas or policies to distribute part of their higher education funding based on performance metrics, such as the number of degrees awarded, four-year graduation rates or amount of low-income or minority graduates, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Other states also are developing similar formulas.
“In an era of tight state budgets and greater demand for college graduates and a greater emphasis on student success performance funding has emerged as a politically popular approach to higher education funding,” said Thomas Harnisch, director of state relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
Public college and university presidents are generally supportive of performance-based funding as long as it respects the diversity of institutional missions and is fair, Harnisch said.
In Vermont, the Legislature approved a bill last session that calls for members of the Vermont PreKindergarten-16 Council’s higher education subcommittee to come up with a performancebased funding proposal. The subcommittee has held two meetings since July and plans a final meeting for Oct. 29.
The Vermont State Colleges, which includes Castleton University, College of Vermont, Johnson State College, Lyndon State College and Vermont Technical College, recommends the funding formula reflect the number of postsecondary credentials—from oneyear certificates and up—awarded to Vermonters, weighted by degree type, and the number of degrees completed on time by Vermonters. More than 80 percent of VSC students are from Vermont. VSC got $24 million in state funding this year.
“To the extent Vermont does not have a lot more money, I think it’s also appropriate that they look at the money that they’re currently spending to make sure it’s going to where their priorities are and to where their need is the greatest,” said Jeb Spaulding, chancellor of the VSC.
The VSC has recommended that in determining a funding formula, Vermont use a goal of at least 60 percent of Vermonters earning an associate or higherlevel degree by 2020. It also wants the state to first apply the formula to 5 percent of each institution’s appropriation and increase it 5 percent each year to a maximum of 25 percent of the total appropriation.
UVM wants the formula to apply only to new money and not the current funding amount the university receives or as a bonus system with a bonus for private money raised. The school also wants the formula to include a measurement for progress toward a degree and the percentage of job placements one year after graduating.
“It (performance-based funding) will create new incentives for our colleges and universities to provide a high quality education for students and help them make a successful transition into careers,” UVM President Tom Sullivan said.
The university got $42 million in state funding this year.