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Landscape of State Performance Funding Policies

February 5, 2020

A new policy brief finds that 29 states currently tie some share of state funding for public colleges to student outcomes, such as graduation rates. Many of these state funding formulas also reward colleges for serving low-income students and students from underrepresented minority groups.

The brief was published by InformEdStates, a nonprofit clearinghouse for policy analysis and research. Its authors include Robert Kelchen, an associate professor of higher education at Seton Hall University; Kelly Rosinger, an assistant professor of education at Pennsylvania State University; and Justin Ortagus, an assistant professor of higher education administration and policy at the University of Florida.

The project, which has been in the works for two years, is an attempt to develop the first comprehensive data set on how performance funding has evolved. Several policy briefs will follow this initial release, which highlights the evolution of formulas in Missouri, New York and Tennessee.

"By providing details about the history and mechanics of three states’ PBF systems, we hope to spark conversations among policymakers and researchers about the importance of identifying and understanding the nuances of funding policies across states," the brief said.

Future papers will attempt to track the impact of these policies on student access, success, loan debt and labor market outcomes.

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Paul Fain

Paul Fain, Contributing Editor, came to Inside Higher Ed in September 2011, after a six-year stint covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Paul has also worked in higher ed P.R., with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn't stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., Paul has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper and Mother Jones. He's won a few journalism awards, including one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Paul got hooked on journalism while working too many hours at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fain plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

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