5 state budget proposals for higher education to watch

The start of the year marks budget season for many states, and governors across the country have tabled spending proposals.

Although not finalized, many of these plans include a significant increase in public funding for higher education. That’s partly because federal coronavirus aid funneled to local and state governments has improved the fiscal outlook, leaving state coffers empty. State investment in post-secondary education is expected to soar more than 8% in fiscal year 2022 from the prior year, according to the latest Grapevine forecastswhich does not even take federal aid into account.

However, the survey also does not take into account soaring inflation, which will likely eat away at this increase. Inflation rates and declining enrollment in many regions must be considered when analyzing state budget proposals, said Tom Harnisch, vice president of government relations at the State Higher Education Executive Officers. Association.

We’ve summarized a sampling of budget plans below that are worth watching as they move through the legislative process.

Illinois

Governor JB Pritzker, a Democrat, scrapped a $45.4 billion budget proposal which features a proposed 5% increase in funding for the state’s public two- and four-year colleges.

Overall, its budget plan for higher education is $2.2 billion, an increase of $208 million from the last budget. Public universities would receive nearly $55 million more and community colleges would receive an additional $13 million.

About 30% of the proposed $2.2 billion would go to the University of Illinois system, which would receive $650 million. Another $203 million, or less than 10% of the higher education budget, would go to the Southern Illinois University system.

Pritzker also wants to set aside an additional $122 million for a state grant program to bring its total funding to $601 million. The change to the cash scholarship program would make financial aid available to approximately 24,000 additional students. It would also clear the way for the state to increase the maximum grant from $6,468 to $8,508, or 50% of the average cost of tuition and fees at a public university in Illinois.

Minnesota

Minnesota officials have projected a $7.7 billion budget surplus for the state, led by Governor Tim Walz, a Democrat, offer additional funding to the biennial state budget approved in 2021.

Many of its intended uses of the additional funding would create new financial aid initiatives.

His proposal would establish a pilot program to waive college tuition fees, with an initial investment of $10 million. This would benefit undergraduate students applying to tribal, public and private institutions.

It would also spend nearly $7 million initially on a program that would allow campuses to establish or expand support services for students with children. Students who are parents tend to face barriers to graduation and they benefit from counseling, the proposal notes.

The University of Minnesota would receive an additional $43 million in 2022-23 to help offset student tuition and fund improved student services. Minnesota State University would receive an additional $39 million to support base operations impacted by the pandemic as well as various needs such as student mental health, basic student needs such as housing and training professional.

Tennessee

Governor Bill Lee, a Republican, engineered nearly $2 billion higher education budget plan this includes $90 million in general funding for public colleges across the state, which would secure a tuition freeze.

Notably, it would dedicate $1.2 billion to college capital improvements, including $250 million to Tennessee State University, a historically black institution that has been chronically underfunded for decades, according to a state audit. The review said the state could owe the State of Tennessee up to $544 million.

About $75 million would be funneled into a state financial aid program, the HOPE Scholarship, which primarily benefits Tennessee high school graduates who enroll in an eligible public or private college. The cash injection would increase the scholarship to $5,100 per year for students attending four-year colleges and $3,200 for students in two-year schools.

Current awards can reach $3,500 per year for freshmen and sophomores attending four-year schools and $4,500 for juniors and seniors. Two-year college students can receive up to $3,000 per year.

Lee wants to send $6 million to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville to open an Institute of American Civics to be housed in its Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.

Details about the institute are sparse, though the UT system president said he would “support and enhance statewide efforts to highlight the role American institutions play in solving the conflicts, the promotion of human dignity and the development of public policies”.

Connecticut

Governor Ned Lamont, a Democrat, has proposed a $24 billion budget plan for higher education.

Among other things, it would provide $65 million to help the Connecticut State College and University System increase enrollment with tuition assistance.

Last year, the state legislature appropriated more than $81 million from a budget surplus to increase funding for all Connecticut higher education entities to help mitigate the costs induced by the pandemic, The Connecticut Mirror reported.

Lamont’s proposal keeps about $64 million of that aid for another year.

Pennsylvania

Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has proposed perhaps one of the largest higher education funding increases in the nation. As part of its plan, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education would receive an additional $75 millionwhich represents an increase of almost 16% compared to the previous year.

PASSHE would get a total of $552 million.

Wolf also proposed more modest increases for other state-related institutions, which are funded by the state but operate with less state oversight.

Chancellor Dan Greenstein said if the legislature passes Wolf’s funding proposal, PASSHE would freeze tuition, which it has done for three years, PennLive.com reported.

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