State Higher Education Equity Funding Research

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association’s (SHEEO) primary mission is to promote an environment that values higher education and its role in ensuring the equitable education of all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic factors. Central to that mission is equipping states with the skills and information to act when and where necessary. One area that presently requires attention and action is the analysis of equitable funding to public institutions of higher education.

While there is a deep pool of literature on state higher education funding, much of this research focuses on the determinants of changes in funding levels. Researchers have recently begun expanding this research base to include a more focused equity lens, but there is still much we do not know, especially on the topics of funding adequacy and equity. In 2021, SHEEO published a literature review and analysis of prior research looking at the impacts of state funding, total revenue, and student financial aid on student outcomes. Ultimately, we found that increasing funding to public institutions results in additional enrollments, higher retention and graduation rates, additional degree and certificate completions, and higher statewide degree attainment.

With generous support from the Joyce Foundation, SHEEO is issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) to fund research projects that investigate inequities and adequacy in higher education funding.


RFP for Research Project

SHEEO seeks to fund six research projects at $10,000 each through this RFP. The immediate goal of these research projects is to advance understanding of equity-based funding, define funding adequacy and inequitable funding, and provide states with actionable, evidence-based solutions to help close equity gaps in public institution funding. SHEEO is open to funding any project of relevance to the larger topic of equitable and adequate funding to public institutions of higher education. Awardees will receive these dollars directly as an honorarium, and they may seek funding from other sources to supplement the funds. Each project will consist primarily of an empirical research paper with an abstract and an executive summary.

SHEEO is coordinating a learning community of states dedicated to exploring equitable funding. Once the research projects are complete, researchers will present their findings to the learning community to directly connect academic research to state practitioners. Awardees might also be expected to present their findings to funding partners. Successful proposals will identify research that promises to advance the work of the learning community, has immediate relevance for expanding the field’s knowledge around equitable and adequate funding for public institutions, and meets traditional academic standards for quality and rigor.

Please submit your proposal and all relevant documents to Kelsey Kunkle at by 11:59 p.m. Mountain Time on December 10, 2023. Review of proposals will begin on Monday, December 11, 2023.