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Roughly 35 states have enacted performance-funding formulas that tie support for public colleges to metrics like graduation rates and degree-attainment numbers. Critics worry that colleges may attempt to game the formulas by enrolling fewer students who have a lower likelihood of success. A growing number of states are adding measures of equity to the formulas, such as additional funding for colleges that successfully serve low-income students or those from underrepresented student groups.

A newly published study analyzed whether these equity provisions have affected underrepresented student enrollments at community colleges. The study by Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, found that performance funding systems, regardless of whether they include an equity bonus, have little impact on underrepresented student enrollment.

"This suggests that community colleges are likely not engaging in widespread practices to try to recruit more advantaged students," Kelchen wrote in an earlier version of the study, which was published by the Community College Review. "On the other hand, equity provisions are not inducing community colleges to recruit more students from historically underrepresented groups with more effort than other community colleges not facing performance-based funding."