Promise programs (also known as free college programs) have grown in popularity over the last few years. When targeted correctly, these programs have the potential to increase enrollment, retention, and graduation rates for underserved students. By focusing a promise program on adult students and including additional supports and services, states can connect with nontraditional students who previously believed college was not an option. However, the message of a promise program is strong and should not be misused. This paper helps to define the concept of a promise program for adults, discusses the value proposition of a promise, provides an overview of current and proposed promise programs, and outlines critical considerations for states considering an adult promise program.
The White House announced Tuesday that President Trump will nominate Robert L. King to be the assistant secretary of postsecondary education.
King, who has decades of experience in state government but none at the federal level, is Trump’s first nominee for a higher ed post at the Education Department. All but three other Senate-confirmable positions have already been filled at the department.
David Tandberg, vice president of policy research and strategic initiatives co-authored a book chapter in “Indicators of Educational Quality for Postsecondary Accountability Systems” titled “Indicators of Educational Quality for Postsecondary Accountability Systems.”
Horn, A.S. & Tandberg, D.A. (2018). Indicators of educational quality for postsecondary accountability systems. In H.P. Weingarten, M. Hicks, & A. Kaufman (Eds.) Assessing Quality in Postsecondary Education: International Perspectives (3-26). Kingston, Ontario: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Higher education makes important contributions to the betterment of society and to the lives of
individuals. On a societal level, higher education supplies an educated citizenry and workforce. For individuals, higher education provides an opportunity for personal development, fulfillment, and economic mobility. States play a large role in helping public colleges and universities fulfill these promised benefits: in 2017, states spent more than $86 billion on appropriations to higher education (Laderman & Carlson, 2018). However, the extent of financial support for higher education in each state varies greatly. Due to the importance of, and variation in, state funding for higher education, funding levels have received a significant amount of attention both in the scholarly literature and
in the popular press.
The relative effort of states in funding higher education can be evaluated using a variety of metrics. In the annual State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) report, several ways of assessing state effort are presented, such as by analyzing higher education spending relative to personal income, population, or total tax revenue. Each measure highlights different aspects of the general concept of state higher education funding effort. Within the empirical literature, state effort has been examined using several of these measures. This research has revealed a number of factors that help determine an individual state’s effort, finding that decisions about state funding for higher education are made in the context of multiple external factors, including current and projected economic conditions, competing priorities across the state, cultural and ideological shifts in the state population, political and higher education characteristics of the state, and state tax structures. In this report, changes in state funding for higher education, the concept of state effort and how to define and measure it, national trends in state effort, and state trends in state effort are explored. Then the empirical research on what impacts state effort is examined, and the paper concludes with policy considerations and recommendations.
Park City, Utah – As members of the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) convened at the association’s 65th Annual Meeting in Park City, Utah, officials from SHEEO announced the winners of the organization’s inaugural SHEEO Excellence Awards. The awards recognize the leadership, dedication, and innovation of exceptional SHEEOs, agency staff, and agencies at a time when state policy success is increasingly linked to student success and, in turn, states’ economic and social prosperity.
- The winner of the Exceptional Leader Award is Teresa Lubbers, Commissioner for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.
- The winner of the Exceptional Agency Award is the Office of the Idaho State Board of Education.
- The winner of the David L. Wright Memorial Award is Andrew Rauch, Director of Institutional Finance at the Colorado Department of Higher Education.
Reflecting on the inaugural SHEEO Excellence Awards, Dr. Robert Anderson, president of SHEEO, said, “SHEEO is proud of the work of all the state higher education executive officers, their agencies, and the agency staff members. These individuals and agencies work every day to improve outcomes for students and to advance the public good. It is, therefore, an honor to recognize the winners of these inaugural awards.”
EXCEPTIONAL LEADER AWARD
The Exceptional Leader Award is presented to a current state higher education executive officer from a member agency who has shown exceptional leadership, a commitment to higher education, a contribution to the greater good, and service to the SHEEO Association within the last year.
Commissioner Lubbers has served as the commissioner of higher education in Indiana for nine years. During that time, she has led the development and implementation of Indiana’s higher education strategic plans, including the recently adopted third plan, “Reaching Higher, Delivering Value.” Teresa has embraced a commitment to “paying for what we value” through performance funding metrics for institutions and students. She has tirelessly focused on improving completion and on-time completion rates for all Hoosiers, with a focus on closing achievement gaps. Finally, Teresa has worked to align higher education preparation with workforce needs by working with policymakers, educators and employers.
Commissioner Lubbers has also served the wider, state higher education policy field by mentoring new state higher education executive officers and serving the SHEEO Association on its executive committee for a total of six years and as the committee chair.
Mitchell Daniels, Jr., president of Purdue University and former governor of Indiana, said: “As a long-standing legislator and now for years in her current post, Teresa has upheld standards of the highest quality in her commitment to education. As a friend of almost half a century, I may be permitted to note that the excellence of her character equals or even surpasses the quality of her performance of her public duties.”
Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech Community College, further praised Commissioner Lubbers: “During her time as Indiana’s Commissioner for Higher Education, her policies have resulted in Indiana students completing at higher and faster rates…[while] pursuing equity for all students, and with a keen eye to the credentials which move Indiana’s economy forward.”
EXCEPTIONAL AGENCY AWARD
The Exceptional Agency Award is presented to a member agency whose innovative actions, policies, or practices advanced student success in their state; which displayed exceptional governance practices; which overcame exceptional challenges; or displayed other meritorious attributes within the last year.
The Office of the Idaho State Board of Education has demonstrated a consistent commitment to advancing postsecondary education and student success within the State of Idaho. This commitment has remained unwavering even in the face of external challenges and an expansive scope of responsibility, with a small but mighty staff.
Accomplishments in recent years include:
• Idaho’s Direct Admissions program admitting all Idaho high school students to at least six of the eight public colleges and universities in the state
• Launched “Apply Idaho,” enabling students to submit applications to all of Idaho’s public institutions simultaneously, with no application fees
• Support and implementation of Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s Higher Education Task Force recommendations designed to help Idaho reach its goal of 60 percent of adults having a postsecondary degree or professional certificate
Idaho is one of only two states in the nation with consolidated governance of K-20 education under one board. The success of the Board in advancing an innovative policy agenda focused on student success is remarkable. As Idaho State Board of Education Executive Director Matt Freeman is quoted as saying: “Any success we have enjoyed is because of a talented and dedicated team with a singular focus on what is in the best interests of students. After all, students are the reason our institutions exist.”
Dr. Robert Anderson, president of SHEEO, said this of the Idaho State Board: “The Board epitomizes what it means to be innovative in the face of challenges and to place students at the center of everything it does. Idaho is better because of the effort of the Idaho State Board.”
DAVID L. WRIGHT MEMORIAL AWARD
The David L. Wright Memorial Award is named in honor of the late David Wright, an esteemed colleague and leader in state higher education, who served in the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, and the Florida Governing Board. This award recognizes a current SHEEO agency staff member, from a member agency, who embodies the exceptional commitment, work ethic, and ethical practices of David Wright, and who has made outstanding contributions to their agency.
During challenging years, Andrew Rauch has stepped up to serve higher education and the State of Colorado in countless capacities. Included among the areas he led are the development of the state higher education budget, management of the Colorado performance funding allocation model that distributes the funds, overseeing financial aid distributions and management, and hiring and managing new staff. For many states, this list would be the work of entire teams. Thanks in part to Andrew’s efforts, FY 2018-19 represented one of Colorado higher education’s best years.
Kim Hunter Reed, Louisiana’s commissioner of higher education and former executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, shared, “What an outstanding choice. Andrew is a unique talent – smart, innovative and absolutely mission focused. I enjoyed watching him grow in his new role and I am delighted to applaud him for this well-deserved recognition.“
Alexis Senger, former chief analyst and higher education advisor to Governor John Hickenlooper, adds: “Andrew embodies the qualities of hard work and professional ethics for which the award is named. The State of Colorado and our students in institutions of higher education are the better thanks to his tireless efforts.”
STATE HIGHER EDUCATION FINANCE: FY 2017
For the first time, students are shouldering the majority of higher education costs, despite increases in state and local support, report finds
State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) examines the trends, context and consequences of state higher education funding decisions in FY 2017.
BOULDER, Colorado — In FY 2017, for the first time in our nation’s history, more than half of all states relied more heavily on tuition dollars to fund their public systems of higher education than on government appropriations, despite increased state and local support for public colleges and universities. That’s the overarching narrative of the State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) FY 2017 report, a comprehensive, nonpartisan analysis of educational appropriations, tuition revenue and enrollment trends in all 50 states, released today by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO).
In FY 2017, states saw a moderate increase in state and local support for higher education, along with a slight increase in tuition revenue and nearly no change in full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment. Yet despite five straight years of increases in public investments, constant dollar state support of higher education per FTE student remains $1,000 lower than before the 2008 Great Recession and $2,000 lower than before the 2001 dot-com crash. What’s more, states are increasingly dependent on tuition revenue as a major funding source for public colleges and universities, which could pose significant sustainability challenges as states continue their efforts to increase the percentage of their residents with some education beyond high school to meet their workforce needs.
“Although the cost of college has been rising for students and families, so too have the economic benefits of earning a high-quality postsecondary credential or degree,” said Robert E. Anderson, president of SHEEO. “Every higher education finance decision ought to reflect this reality. To respond to the affordability crisis, accurate data and high-quality research are needed. The SHEF report aims to broaden the field’s understanding of the finance landscape to support smart policy decisions at the state and federal level.”
While the nation has rebounded in many ways since the Great Recession, some industries — such as higher education — have been slow to feel the effects of economic recovery. In fact, 44 states have not reached pre-recession levels of state and local support per FTE. For states, challenging budget environments require new ways of thinking about financing public systems of higher education, and the policy decisions made today have both short-term and long-term implications on their ability to develop the talent needed to meet workforce demands and grow their economies. The SHEF report examines the trends, context and consequences of state higher education funding decisions in FY 2017.
Five key takeaways from this year’s report include:
1. Overall, states moderately expanded their support for higher education in FY 2017. State and local appropriations for public colleges and universities totaled $94.5 billion – a 2.1 percent increase over FY 2016 – from taxes and other funding sources, such as lottery revenue. Twenty-seven states increased their appropriations per FTE, yet despite this expansion, state support per student remains lower than before the 2008 Great Recession and the 2001 dot-com crash. When adjusting for inflation, state appropriations per full-time student remain $1,000 below that of 2008 and nearly $2,000 below investments in 2001. Looking at the states individually, only six states have reached or surpassed their 2008 pre-recession appropriations.
“The Great Recession was devastating for many institutions and state budgets,” said Eileen Klein, President of the Arizona Board of Regents and Chair of SHEEO’s Executive Committee. “Many of our elected leaders realize the benefits that higher education brings to our country; however, returning to pre-recession funding levels is not viable for many states. This is an era that calls for innovation among colleges and universities to develop new revenue streams to ensure our institutions remain competitive while counting on states to provide their fair share of funds for higher education – dollars that ultimately benefit students and our country’s future workforce.”
2. State financial aid for students attending public institutions reached an all-time high. States allocated an average of $673 in financial aid per full-time student in FY 2017. What’s more, state financial aid has increased 86 percent since 2000 and now represents 8.8 percent of overall educational appropriations. To respond to this trend, this year’s edition of the SHEF report includes a new chart that allows readers to compare changes in appropriations for state public aid over time.
“We’re encouraged to see states protect and increase their commitments to financial aid, even as they navigate challenging budget environments and funding realities,” said Andy Carlson, Vice President of Finance Policy and Member Services at SHEEO. “As policymakers continue to consider ways to make the most efficient use of their resources, focusing their scarce aid dollars on the students who need it the most is one key way that states can promote access and success for students who might not otherwise be able to afford education beyond high school.”
3. For the first time, more than half of all states relied more on tuition than on government appropriations to finance their systems of higher education. Net tuition revenue contributed $72.3 billion of public higher education funding in FY 2017, accounting for 46.4 percent of total educational revenue nationally – up from 35.8 percent before the Great Recession. In 28 states, more than 50 percent of total educational revenues came from tuition. Net tuition revenue per FTE, driven both by changes in tuition rates and enrollment composition, increased in constant dollars in 33 states.
“While increases in tuition revenue once served as a stopgap for cuts to educational appropriations, we have reached a point where states have more than made up for these funding limitations,” said Anderson. “The reliance on tuition dollars most adversely impacts our historically underserved populations. To develop the talent needed to meet workforce demands and grow their economies, states must find a way to balance the scale so that their higher education systems are not disproportionately dependent on the hardworking American people and families who can least afford it.”
4. Total educational revenues are at the highest level since 1980. As tuition revenues increase, so too do states’ total educational revenues (the sum of state and local appropriations plus net tuition). Overall, total educational revenues are nearly six percent (5.8%) above where they were in 2008 and are the highest seen in the SHEF dataset, which dates back to 1980 – further indicating an outsized reliance on tuition revenue. While there is significant variation across states and between institutions within each state, this means that overall, state public higher education had more total revenue available than in any prior year. In FY 2017, total educational revenues (the sum of state and local support and net tuition) increased in 32 states.
5. Full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment continues to taper, though not significantly. Full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment, which peaked during the Great Recession in 2011 and has decreased each year since, continued to decline by 10,700 FTE and is now at 11 million. Despite several years of decreases nationally, FTE enrollment remains 7.7 percent above the level before the Great Recession.
The moderate changes seen nationally in enrollment, educational appropriations, and net tuition revenue mask significant variation across the states. For example, while national trends indicate that FTE enrollment is on the decline, in 20 states, enrollment increased in FY 2017. In addition, appropriations per-FTE increased nationally, but decreased in 22 states.
“While a national snapshot is valuable in helping the field understand big-picture trends, it’s important to note that the SHEF report is a composite of 50 very different states – each with its own tax structures, population demographics and resource bases,” said Sophia Laderman, senior policy analyst at SHEEO and the FY 2017 SHEF report’s primary author. “By controlling for variation and considering state context wherever possible, it’s our hope that the SHEF report will provide state leaders with a reliable, actionable method for evaluating finance, which is one of the most fundamental issues facing state higher education policy.”
Those who are interested in data for individual states are encouraged to access the electronic version of the report, which includes numerous supplementary, state-by-state data tables, at https://sheeomain.wpengine.com/shef.C
ABOUT THE STATE HIGHER EDUCATION EXECUTIVE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION (SHEEO) The State Higher Education Executive Officers is the national association of the chief executives of statewide governing, policy, and coordinating boards of postsecondary education. Founded in 1954, SHEEO serves its members as an advocate for state policy leadership, a liaison between states and the federal government, a vehicle for learning from and collaborating with peers, a manager of multistate teams to initiate new programs, and as a source of information and analysis on educational and public policy issues. SHEEO seeks to advance public policies and educational practices to achieve more widespread access to and completion of higher education, more discoveries through research, and more applications of knowledge that improve the quality of human lives and enhance the public good.
STATE HIGHER EDUCATION EXECUTIVE OFFICERS 3035 CENTER GREEN DRIVE, SUITE 100, BOULDER, COLORADO, 80301 303.541.1600 • SHEEO.org
SHEEO Excellence Awards
SHEEO announces the first annual SHEEO Excellence Awards, which recognize the leadership, dedication, and innovation of exceptional SHEEOs, agency staff, and agencies.
The Excellence Awards are:
Exceptional Leader Award – Presented to a current state higher education executive officer from a member agency who has shown exceptional leadership, a commitment to higher education, a contribution to the greater good, and service to the SHEEO Association within the last year.
Exceptional Agency Award – Presented to a member agency whose innovative actions, policies, or practices advanced student success in their state; which displayed exceptional governance practices; which overcame exceptional challenges; or displayed other meritorious attributes within the last year.
The David L. Wright Memorial Award – This award is named in honor of the late David Wright, an esteemed colleague and leader in state higher education, who served in the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, and the Florida Governing Board. This award recognizes a current SHEEO agency staff member, from a member agency, who embodies the exceptional commitment, work ethic, and ethical practices of David Wright, and who has made outstanding contributions to their agency.
SHEEO is seeking nominations for the SHEEO Excellence Awards. A nomination form is included in the attachment at this link.
• For the Exceptional Leader and Exceptional Agency awards, nominations will be reviewed and award decisions made by a committee of SHEEOs and the SHEEO president. The Exceptional Leader Award will be presented at the SHEEO Annual Meeting.
• For the David L. Wright Memorial Award, a committee of agency staff and the SHEEO president will review nominations and make award decisions. The David L. Wright Memorial Award will be presented at the SHEEO Policy Conference. (The Exceptional Leader Award recipient will also be recognized at the Policy Conference).
• March 6, 2018 Call for nominations
• May 1, 2018 Nominations due
• May 2018 Selection committee meets and selects winners
• June 8, 2018 Winners notified
Thirty-eight research, advocacy, justice organizations and professionals call on federal lawmakers to help incarcerated students access the transformative benefits of postsecondary education by reinstating Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated students; and eliminating Question 23 on the FAFSA (drug conviction question) and removing consideration of drug offenses from the financial aid process.
The United States is widely revered for its presumed excellence in higher education, and it now seems commonplace to characterize our postsecondary system as “the envy of the world” (e.g., Khator 2011). In fact, according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities—which heavily weights research productivity—fifty of the top 100 universities globally reside in the United States (Shanghai Ranking Consultancy 2016). Few informed observers, however, would equate research prowess with educational effectiveness. Indeed, the educational quality of postsecondary institutions has been increasingly called into question as evidence periodically surfaces of marginal knowledge and skill acquisition among college graduates (Arum and Roska 2011; Kutner et al. 2007; Desjardins et al. 2013). For example, results from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy indicated that only 40 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients were proficient in prose literacy in 1992, a figure that fell to 31 percent in 2003 (Kutner et al. 2007). More recently, a national survey revealed that only 24 percent of employers agreed that college graduates were well prepared for “applying knowledge/skills to [the] real world” (Hart Research Associates 2015, 12).
Concerns about educational quality have also emerged amidst competing state budgetary priorities and low graduation rates, as colleges and universities are pressured to provide evidence of their value, effectiveness, and efficiency, thereby ensuring that taxpayer investments 4 Aaron S. Horn and David A. Tandberg in higher education are being utilized responsibly. Policy makers have thus issued a clarion call for greater accountability related to educational quality in the postsecondary sector, particularly the need to collect and publicize data on student learning outcomes (e.g., Reindl and Reyna 2011; SHEEO 2005; U.S. Department of Education 2006). This chapter seeks to inform policy discourse by providing an overview of performance indicators used to evaluate educational quality for purposes of public accountability and improvement in higher education.