Illinois Develops New Equity-Based Higher Education Funding Formula

Thus, each university, which has a seat on the commission, is required to push for a disclaimer to ensure that its budgets will not fall below current levels. In this scenario, the formula would only be applied to new government funds allocated above an established base funding level, much like what happened when the formula for K-12 schools was created. in 2017. This means lawmakers must approve much greater spending on higher education to advance equity goals.

A look at the U of I’s South Campus reveals the difficult nuances of designing a formula. While the university enrolls the second-largest number of black undergraduates — 2,120 out of 33,001 undergraduates in fall 2020 — they make up the smallest percentage of its total student body at just 6.4 percent. , according to data provided by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Northern Illinois University enrolled slightly more black students at 2,355, but they make up nearly 20% of the school’s undergraduates.

The University of Illinois at Chicago is arguably in a better position. About 34% of students are Hispanic and 21% identify as Asian or Pacific Islander.

Chicago State University and Governor’s State University currently have the highest proportions of black students, at 72% and 38%, respectively. But they serve fewer students overall and receive the least state funding.

Of the more than $1.2 billion allocated to higher education in next year’s state budget, more than half ($655 million) went to the University system. Illinois. The combined 57,283 undergraduate students at its three campuses represent about 45.6% of all undergraduate students in the state, according to IBHE data. For their operating budgets, the Governor’s State received $24.4 million, the State of Chicago received $36.8 million, and Northern Illinois University received $92.2 million.

U of I has said little publicly about its position on a funding formula and has not made anyone available for an interview.

Deputy Governor for Education Martin Torres said the formula’s recommendations are not expected to go to the General Assembly until 2025.

If the formula takes minority enrollment into account, it will almost certainly also link funding to outcomes—retention and graduation rates.

Urbana-Champaign leads the pack when it comes to looking at the numbers in isolation. According to an analysis by the Partnership for College Completion, a Chicago-based nonprofit that advocates for equity, the U of I’s flagship campus awarded 481 bachelor’s degrees to black students last year, followed by UIC with 383 and Northern Illinois with 330.

But for U of I, that meant only 6% and 8% of all bachelor’s degrees were awarded to black students at the Urbana-Champaign and Chicago campuses, respectively. Chicago State awarded 224 degrees to black graduates, which accounted for 71% of the school’s total degrees.

Chicago State President Zaldwaynaka “Z” Scott said his school, which relies on state appropriations as its primary source of revenue, would benefit from an equity-based formula because there are additional costs for academic and social supports to help students with high needs progress. For example, the school offers a five-week introductory college course called Rise Academy, which gives full tuition and fees to freshmen who complete it. They are more likely to stay in school than students who do not follow the program.

“I won’t have to make the choice to fix the roof or fix the pipe over hiring another advisor or training another advisor because that expense was factored into the funding formula,” said said Scott.

Proponents say state funding for university operating budgets — which has declined significantly in real and adjusted terms since its peak of $1.5 billion in 2002 — should not be viewed as a sum game nothing. As state funding dwindled, schools raised tuition to make up the difference, discouraging low-income students from attending and sending residents to cheaper out-of-state universities, where they stay and contribute to the economy.

“Everyone will need to think beyond their own immediate self-interest and work together toward bigger goals that can lead to more equitable outcomes for students,” says Lisa Castillo Richmond, executive director of the Partnership for College Completion. “If everyone fights back, our students could end up worse off.”

Adam Schuster, vice president of policy at the libertarian-leaning Illinois Policy Institute, says he supports the goal of making the university more accessible, but warns that a formula favoring specific racial groups could lead to legal challenges, like the affirmative action cases that have landed in the United States. Supreme Court.

“If there’s a way to achieve greater equity and outcomes that don’t require racial discrimination in the process,” he says, “it might actually be more efficient and less controversial.”

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