Two years into the pandemic, government revenues have mostly recovered strongly, easing fears that COVID-19 could plunge the public higher education sector into a cycle of budget cuts similar to those caused by the 2008 recession. Federal aid from the three stimulus packages boosted funding for colleges and universities even as states slashed higher education budgets — cuts they later reversed.
As state governors and legislatures craft their budgets for the fiscal year that begins in July, experts agree that states are on edge and higher education will likely reap the benefits.
“We’re seeing states have quite large budget surpluses that have allowed higher education agencies and state higher education systems to make more ambitious demands than in other years,” said Tom Harnisch, vice president. government relations to the State Higher Education Executive. Association of Officers.
Most governors present budget proposals for the next fiscal year in January and February, usually in conjunction with their State of the State addresses. Forty-six states begin their fiscal years on July 1, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In these states, legislatures typically develop and pass a budget during the summer months.
Four states operate on a different budget cycle: New York begins its fiscal year on April 1; Alabama and Michigan begin their exercises on October 1, and Texas will enter fiscal year 2023 on September 1. Some states adopt biennial budgets that span two fiscal years; Kentucky, Virginia, and Wyoming will adopt a two-year budget for fiscal years 2023 and 2024. Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin passed two-year budgets last year that will run through fiscal year 2023, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The States Education Commission, an agency that tracks education policy, is monitoring state of the state addresses from governors this year. Of the 28 addresses the commission reviewed, 23 mentioned issues related to funding or education funding, wrote Zeke Perez Jr., senior policy analyst at the commission, in a brief for Inside Higher Education.
“Early indicators show funding and funding will remain a priority in state education budgets, legislation and other policies,” Perez wrote.
Governors of many states, including Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri and Virginia, have proposed blanket increases in state appropriations for teaching higher for the 2023 financial year.
Although the purposes of this funding vary from state to state, a number of governors have proposed increased operating expenses for universities, increased tuition and financial aid, as well as investments in state achievement goals, according to Perez.
However, not all states plan to increase higher education credits. In his budget proposal, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis provided $1.3 billion for state colleges and $2.7 billion for state universities, reflecting a decrease of $100 million. university funding.
State of the State addresses are also a good time to assess trends in higher education legislation for the upcoming legislative session. So far, states appear to be focused on college persistence and completion, financial aid and non-academic aid, said Sunny Deye, post-secondary education program director at the National Conference of Legislatures. States.
“We’re seeing more legislation than ever for assistance with food, housing, childcare and transportation, things that can really overshadow tuition fees,” Deye said. “We are also seeing an interest in ensuring that students who are in the system and entering the higher education system get support for persistence and completion.”
Some states are considering short-term emergency grants that would help students overcome obstacles that might force them to quit, such as loss of child care or car trouble. Lawmakers want to ensure students can graduate even with unexpected financial hardship, Deye said.
Tennessee, for example, last year created a program called Knox Promise Complete Grants to help students cover costs beyond tuition and mandatory fees. Eligible students could receive up to $1,500 per semester if they attend a community college or qualifying four-year institution, and those attending a Tennessee College of Applied Technology could get up to $938 per term. Governor Bill Lee has proposed an investment of $14.5 million to expand college coaching work that includes these completion grants, said Emily House, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation. .
“For so many students, there is such a thin margin between being able to attend class every day and having life intervene in the form of a utility bill, a medical bill, flat tires or car repairs, leading them to think about giving up,” House says. “It’s not a Tennessee problem. It’s a problem everywhere.
The governors’ budget proposals are just that: proposals. Legislatures will decide exactly how much money the higher education sector will receive in fiscal year 2023, and the numbers won’t be concrete until budgets are passed and signed off by the governor.
In the meantime, read on for more details on the governors’ budget proposals in a handful of states to watch.
Arkansas is considering a $12.9 million increase in funding for colleges and universities in fiscal year 2023 as part of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s $775.6 million budget for the sector, though that increase is not evenly distributed across all areas. Four-year colleges across the state would receive a total budget increase of $12.2 million, two-year colleges would receive additional funding of $800,000, and technical schools would see a funding decrease of $129,000.
California Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed a budget of $39.6 billion for fiscal year 2023.
The University of California and California State University systems would receive a 5% increase in base funding for five years under the proposal, with the UC system receiving an additional $307.3 million. in ongoing funding and CSU receiving $304.1 million in additional funding.
Michael V. Drake, president of the UC system, praised the budget proposal in a statement last month.
“Governor. Newsom’s proposed five-year funding pact provides fiscal stability and reliable support for the University’s tri-partite mission of teaching, research, and public service,” Drake wrote. UC to make critical long-term investments, especially in areas that directly support our students: further expanding undergraduate enrollment in California, increasing resources for traditionally low-income and first-generation students, and increase college access and affordability for hard-working students and families across the state.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has proposed $2.2 billion for higher education in fiscal year 2023, an increase of $208 million from the previous year. Illinois Newsroom reported. State universities and community colleges would receive a 5% budget increase.
The budget would also allocate an additional $122 million in student bursary program grants, $2.5 million in new funding for adult education programs, and $2.3 million in new funding for scholarships. studies for minority teachers.
Pritzker also offered to spend $230 million from the general fund to pay off an outstanding balance for College Illinois’ prepaid tuition program, which is no longer open for enrollment.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan would increase the operating budget for public universities by 17%, or $299.5 million, in fiscal year 2023. He also proposed an additional $349.4 million for colleges community. Hogan’s capital budget, which funds infrastructure and other capital improvement projects in the state, includes $185 million for projects at the state’s four historically black colleges and universities, $67 million $601 million for community college projects and another $601 million for other higher education projects.
Caroline from the south
In his fiscal year 2023 budget proposal, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster proposed a handful of new higher education initiatives, including a $20 million investment to address the nursing shortage. in the state. The money will supplement the salaries of college and university faculty members and provide tuition reimbursement or scholarships for students enrolled in graduate nursing programs, doctoral programs in nursing practice and to a doctorate. programs.
McMaster has also proposed $183 million for deferred maintenance at colleges and universities and $20 million to implement a tuition freeze for the 2022-23 academic year.
Phil Scott, Governor of Vermont, has asked the Legislature to increase the University of Vermont’s base budget by $10 million. He also requested an additional $5 million for Vermont State Colleges.