Missed Opportunity: Proposed Performance Measures for UW System Won’t do Much to Open Doors for Underserved Students
Governor Walker has proposed a modest increase in state support to the UW System in the 2017-19 budget period, with the additional resources to be distributed among campuses based on how well they score on a certain set of criteria. Those measures could penalize institutions that have been most effective in enrolling underrepresented students and provide a disincentive for campuses to admit low-income students, first-generation students, or other students who may take longer to graduate.
Wisconsin is one of several states moving to outcomes-based funding as a way of distributing some higher education funding among institutions. In his budget proposal, Governor Walker proposed adding $43 million over two years in new funding for the UW System, to be distributed among the institutions using the following set of criteria:
- Affordability and attainability of degrees (used to distribute 30% of the performance-based funding);
- Student success in the workforce (30%);
- Student work readiness (15%);
- Operational efficiency (10%);
- Outreach (5%); and
- Two additional criteria to be set by the Board of Regents (10%).
Wisconsin provides far less public support per student to the University of Wisconsin System than it did fifteen years ago, according to an analysis of newly-released figures.
In 2016, the state provided $6,800 in General Purpose Revenue (GPR) support to the UW System per full-time equivalent student. That’s down more than a third from the $10,500 that the state provided to the UW System per student in 2001. Dollar amounts are from a Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo and are adjusted for inflation; student FTEs are from the University of Wisconsin website.
The chart shows that steep cuts to the University of Wisconsin System are nothing new – indeed, they date back fifteen years. The difference is that in in the early 2000s, lawmakers allowed tuition to rise substantially at the same time as they cut GPR support. That increase in tuition cushioned the effects of the reductions in state support but also raised the price of a university education, pushing the cost of higher education out of reach for some struggling families. Read more
Wisconsin lawmakers cut state funding for the UW System by $125 million per year for the budget period that runs between July 2015 and June 2017, reducing Wisconsin’s investment in keeping higher education accessible and jeopardizing the economic benefit that Wisconsin residents receive from the UW System.
UW officials have released descriptions of planned and ongoing cuts to academics, facilities, and services at each campus that have been made to reduce costs in the wake of the budget cut. Many campuses are reducing the number of classes offered, potentially increasing the amount of time students must spend in school before they can receive credit for courses required for graduation. Other campuses are postponing updates to outdated facilities, cleaning buildings less often, and reducing advising and mentoring services for students. This map shows a selection of the cuts made at each campus, along with each location’s share of the $125 million budget cut. Read more
Wisconsin lawmakers wrapped up their legislative session earlier this month after taking small steps to keep higher education affordable for students. But they did not tackle the larger issue of helping student loan borrowers who are struggling to repay loans they took out to pay for their degrees.
The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families has released a new summary that describes the changes lawmakers made to Wisconsin’s higher education system during the legislative session. The summary also includes descriptions of high-profile proposals that did not pass.
This session lawmakers:
- Created an emergency grant program to help students who face unexpected financial difficulties that could cause them to drop out of school;
- Increased financial aid for students studying at technical colleges;
- Added staff to help match students to internships; and
- Required colleges and universities to provide students with additional information about their financial aid and loans.
These measures are positive steps as far as they go but they are very limited in scope and are dwarfed by recent cuts to Wisconsin’s higher education system. Read more
Resources for Corrections Would Outstrip State Support for University System, under Governor’s Proposal
Wisconsin would spend significantly more on prisons and corrections than on helping students pursue their educations at the University of Wisconsin System, if Governor Walker’s budget is passed without changes.
Governor Walker has called on lawmakers to dramatically reduce the amount of support the state provides for the University System. About 180,000 students attend the University of Wisconsin System, at 13 four-year universities and an equal number of two-year institutions. Each year, the UW system awards about 36,000 degrees. Those degrees help graduating students become part of the well-educated workforce Wisconsin needs to compete in the global economy. Read more
To Reduce Income Inequality and Boost Economic Growth, Make sure every Student has an Opportunity to Attend College
Rising levels of income inequality are acting as a drag on the U.S. economy, but we can counter the economic harm by expanding opportunities to attend college, according to a new report from Standard & Poor’s, a financial services company.
Here’s the crux of the report, in a sentence:
Our review of the data, as well as a wealth of research on this matter, leads us to conclude that the current level of income inequality in the U.S. is dampening GDP growth, at a time when the world’s biggest economy is struggling to recover from the Great Recession and the government is in need of funds to support an aging population.
Pretty clear, right? Prominent policymakers, including President Obama, have warned time and again that high levels of income inequality are slowing economic growth. This report adds something new to the conversation in that it represents the viewpoint of a private sector company, and could be an indication that the business community is starting to view income inequality as a problem. Read more
Tuition at Wisconsin public colleges and universities has increased by 21% since 2008, according to a new report from a national policy organization. Rising tuition levels make it harder for students to afford to go to college and harder for Wisconsin to develop the skilled workforces we need to attract businesses and compete for the jobs of the future.
The increase in tuition means Wisconsin students at public colleges and universities paid $1,530 more for one year of tuition in 2014 than they would have in 2008, even after adjusting for the rising cost of living. If we multiply that amount by four, then we find that tuition costs for a four-year degree rose by $6,120 between 2008 and 2014.
Tuition is going up because Wisconsin has reduced its investment in higher education. Since 2008, Wisconsin has decreased support for public higher education by 22% per student – a cut that works out to $1,401 per student. Read more
States can raise wages and build a strong foundation for economic success by making investments in education, particularly higher education, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute.
The report, “A Well-Educated Workforce is Key to State Prosperity,” makes the following points:
- High-wage states have a well-educated workforce;
- Expanding access to high-quality education strengthens economic opportunity for residents and boosts the state’s overall economy;
- Trying to outdo other states in cutting taxes makes it harder for states to invest in education; and
- Investing in education is good for state budgets in the long-run, since highly-paid workers contribute more in taxes.
The conclusions of this report might seem like common sense to many people in Wisconsin. After all, education has long been an engine of our state’s economic growth. We have depended on a well‑educated workforce, shaped by excellent public schools, to lay the foundation for our prosperity. Read more