Originally published Jan. 8, 2012

As the Michigan legislature looks to establish a budget for the 2013 fiscal year, Grand Valley State University anticipates a change in financial policy that could increase its public funding.

Matt McLogan, vice president of University Relations, confirmed Gov. Rick Snyder is exploring new funding models for universities to take effect in 2013.

“The governor has said he will base at least part of his (fiscal year) 2013 budget recommendation for higher education on the use of performance measures,” McLogan said.

According to the Executive Budget for fiscal years 2012-13, “The formula will encourage universities to graduate a highly educated workforce in a timely manner and conduct research that contributes to the overall economic
strategy for Michigan.”

The new model would allow schools to receive money for factors other than student enrollment, said Lindsay Vogelsberg, legislative aide to Rep. Bob Genetski (R-Saugatuck).

“(Some schools currently) get more for how many students they have, but there’s nothing to say whether they’re doing a good job,” Vogelsberg said. “The way that the system works now is completely arbitrary, and the performance funding model would potentially open up the funding to allow for schools that are producing and performing well to get more funding per pupil.”

Genetski, a GVSU alum, chairs the Higher Education subcommittee if the House Appropriations Committee and will work with the governor to write the budget for higher education.

“Because the funding is so arbitrary, (Genetski) likes the idea of looking into performance funding to make the per-pupil funding more fair,” Vogelsberg said.

Genetski and his fellow legislators do not yet know the performance factors Snyder will consider, but Vogelsberg said the new funding model may resemble those implemented in other states like Indiana and Ohio.

The performance measures of other states include six-year graduation rates, the production of highly-paid majors and the acceptance rate of Pell Grant recipients, she said. However, Snyder may choose an unprecedented formula.

In his message to the people of Michigan in December, the governor revealed his primary higher education focus to be the production of workers that meet the state’s employment needs.

“We need to stop overproducing in areas where there is little or no occupational demand and encourage students and educational institutions to invest in programs where the market is demanding a greater investment in talent,” Snyder said. “I am committed to partnering with Michigan’s public colleges and universities to provide a post-secondary education that is marketable and transferable. State support of post-secondary education should be concentrated in areas that enhance our economic development strategy and provide our students an opportunity to stay and thrive in Michigan.”

The governor further recognized the value of a liberal arts education, which Grand Valley heavily emphasizes, but identified specific careers and majors lacking in Michigan.

“Engineers, nurses, welders and a number of trades face significant staffing challenges,” he said. “We must address these head-on.”

According to GVSU President Thomas Haas’ annual Accountability Report, GVSU has a high pass rate for both the nursing (100 percent of graduates and 93 percent of undergraduates) and engineering programs (89 percent).

Because GVSU typically performs well in many areas, it could benefit from the potential change in appropriations, Vogelsberg said.

According to the Accountability Report, the university experienced the highest increase in enrollment and granted degrees from 2001 to 2010 over all other state institutions. The report also cited that 88 percent of the 2010 graduating class are employed, in graduate school or both, and 84 percent of those students are working in Michigan.

GVSU also has the third-highest freshman-to-sophomore retention rate in the state at 84 percent, only falling behind the University of Michigan (96 percent) and Michigan State University (91 percent).

Despite its accomplishments and consistently high performances rates, Grand Valley receives the least amount of appropriations per student of any other state funded university in Michigan.

Many state representatives have expressed support of increasing GVSU funding, and some advocate the potential funding model.

The 2012-13 executive budget confirms that universities and stakeholders can contribute to the development of the formula, which Vogelsberg said will likely be discussed in the State of the State address on Jan. 18.

For more information about the governor’s 2013 budget projections, visit http://www.michigan.gov/documents/budget/1_345974_7.pdf.

 

Original publication: http://www.lanthorn.com/article/2012/01/changes_brewing_for_higher_education_fundingltheadlinegt

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