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Missouri higher education funding increases could vary by school

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 | 12:44 p.m. CST; updated 5:34 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 29, 2013

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri's public colleges and universities would get a funding increase under Gov. Jay Nixon's proposed budget. But not all of the institutions would be treated equally.

University presidents generally welcomed Nixon's funding proposal as they testified Tuesday before a House appropriations committee — partly because it would give them more money after several years of cuts, and partly because they had a role in developing the funding model.

Nixon's proposal seeks to implement a new performance funding plan that would reward some schools with more money than others for meeting goals in such things as student retention and graduation. The result is that some colleges could get as much as a 5.4 percent increase while others could as little as a 2.2 percent bump in state funds.

During his State of the State address Monday, Nixon said the new funding model should result in higher academic achievement at public colleges and universities with greater accountability to taxpayers.

"While our colleges and universities are doing a great job, and graduating more students than ever before, we're also holding these schools to higher standards than ever before," Nixon said.

Each college and university has its own performance criteria to meet, which were developed jointly by the state and the institutions.

"It's transparent. It rewards results," said Kenneth Dobbins, the president of Southeast Missouri State University, who was the first to testify Tuesday before the House Education Appropriations Committee.

But Nixon's budget wouldn't implement the performance funding exactly as state higher education officials envisioned.

Last fall, the Coordinating Board for Higher Education recommended that the state provide a $25.5 million pool of money for performance-based funding in the 2014 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Each institution could get as much as a 3 percent funding increase if they achieved all their performance measurements, with a 0.6 percent reduction in that funding hike for each goal they failed to meet.

Nixon's budget plan recommends an aggregate funding increase of 4 percent for community colleges and a similar total percentage for Missouri's public universities and its technical college. For each sector get an equal percentage, money subtracted from institutions that didn't meet their goals was shifted to those that did.

For example, the University of Missouri System would get a 4.3 percent increase — amounting to half of the $34 million allotted to all institutions — because it met all five of its performance goals. Those included retaining at least 83 percent of its students from their freshman to sophomore years, maintaining a high rate of students achieving professional or occupational licenses, and increasing federally financed research and development initiatives.

Lincoln University in Jefferson City, meanwhile, would get just a 2.6 percent funding increase because it failed to meet two of its performance criteria. It had a decline in the percentage of students who completed 24 credit hours in their first year and a decline in the percentage of students who graduated within six years.

Among community colleges, Nixon proposed a 5.4 percent funding increase for three institutions that met all of their performance criteria — Metropolitan Community College in the Kansas City area, Mineral Area College in Park Hills, and State Fair Community College in Sedalia.

But Nixon proposed just a 2.2 percent funding bump for Jefferson College in Hillsboro because it met just two of its five performance criteria. Among other things, the college failed to meet goals for the percentage of students who graduated within three years and who passed licensure or certification exams.


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