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Principles for Funding of Higher Education

22 Apr 2024 9:57 AM | Kent Ervin (Administrator)

The Ad Hoc Committee on Higher Education Committee is charged with making recommendations on a new funding formula for NSHE colleges and universities.  The NFA has been actively engaged in providing background information for the committee.  The NFA state board has issued our priorities and principles for the funding higher education for the benefit of students and the state, copied here and also available as a one-page document.

Nevada Faculty Alliance Priorities for Funding Higher Education

Reinvesting in Higher Education for the Common Good

   Higher education drives upward economic and social mobility and should be affordable for all.

   NSHE colleges and universities provide workforce development, ranging from training in technical sciences and advanced manufacturing to educating future teachers, nurses, engineers, doctors, dentists, lawyers, scientists, accountants, business managers, hospitality workers, public health workers, policy-makers, communicators, etc. All are important for Nevada’s economic growth.

   Workforce and economic development is fueled by discoveries made by basic and applied research.

   Student debt is a national crisis preventing generational improvement in living standards. The burden on students should be reduced through direct debt relief and by restoring student fees to pre-2008 levels.

   Funding must provide for the actual cost of delivering high-quality education for students. A new formula that simply re-slices the funding pie will be a failure.

Principles for Higher Education Funding

Caseload and Operational Funding

   Headcount funding should be tied to standards such as advisers per student (1 per 300 students, or more) and counselors per student. Some students require more wrap-around services because of their educational, socio-economic, cultural, or military backgrounds. Funding enhancements for these students should apply to all institutions and programs.

   Evidence-based discipline and course-level credit-hour weightings are important for instructional caseload funding, but so are standards for the number of full-time instructors per student (>1 to 18) and the percentage of courses taught by full-time instructors (60% to 80% depending on institution type).

   Infrastructure for research must be funded, along with investment in partnerships between NSHE and the state to pursue federal and private research funding.

   Allocate funds for fixed costs for facilities, operations, and administration not based on student numbers.

   At least 80% of student registration fees should go to fund instruction and student services, not be diverted to other functions such as intercollegiate athletics or capital improvements.

   Maintain established proportions of state funding versus student revenue, with inflationary factors applied to both. Budget shortfalls should not be made up by increasing student fees.

   To avoid pressure to relax academic standards, no funding should depend on grade assignments.

Outcomes-Based Funding

   Discontinue the ineffective Performance Pool carve-out and establish outcomes-based funding with truly aspirational performance metrics but without jeopardizing base funding.

   Outcomes metrics should not be based on absolute student numbers, but rather ratios that demonstrate access or success relative to target populations.

   Graduation rates have too long of a time lag for the biennial funding cycle. Semester completion better measures current progress and captures non-degree-seeking students and transfer students.

   Phase in outcomes-based funding in the new formula over several years to allow the institutions to adjust.

   Incentives should recognize an institution’s own performance, not make it compete against other institutions.

Financial Aid

   Set targets for state financial aid based on the financial needs of the students at each institution.

   Provide need-based financial aid through state funding, not by redistributing student fees for Student Access.

   Fee and tuition waivers for selected student groups should be 100% state-funded.

NFA Series on NSHE Funding Formula

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