State’s new funding model coming in December

New formula must better include students of different socio-economic statuses, increase future workforce credentials

moneyrollccresizedA new higher education funding formula the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) is charged with creating must factors in graduation rates and retention.

The mandate to CCHE to create a new funding formula comes from a bill signed into law May 2014. That law is designed to support statewide goals for higher education contained within CCHE’s master plan, according to a Colorado Department of Education summary.

Among those goals are increasing the number of postsecondary credentials awarded to meet future workforce needs; improving student success through better outcomes in basic skills education; and enhancing access to postsecondary education to ensure the system reflects the state’s changing demographics while reeducating degree attainment gaps.

“I know higher education has been clamoring for a long time to have a different funding mechanism,” said Walter Richter, chairman of the Aims Community College Board of Trustees. “When we went through the recession, since higher ed was not protected, the state really chipped away at higher ed so they could fund these other programs.”

(Next page: The specifics of the new funding plan)

The CCHE will begin work on the new funding formula this week, kicking things off with a two-day retreat Thursday and Friday in the Student Center at Pueblo Community College, according to a news release.

CCHE is not only tasked with creating the formula, which must be finished and presented Dec. 5, but it must also make that formula easy to understand. Understanding the potential impacts for individual colleges and universities, though, has led to some head scratching.

Niche publication Chalkbeat Colorado cites sources in a June 24 story as calling the search for a new funding model “frustrating” and “complex.”

According to Chalkbeat’s analysis, the requirement that 52.5 percent of total funding be devoted to Colorado Opportunity Fund stipends would drive more money to higher-enrollment institutions and “is expected to most benefit Metropolitan State and Colorado Mesa universities and the community colleges.”

Richter said he’s not sure what, if any, impact the new funding formula will have on Aims, as Aims and Colorado Mountain College are a separate line item on the state’s budget. Both Aims and Colorado Mountain College are considered “local district” community colleges, Richter said.

The Colorado Department of Education said in its summary that the key goals of the project are to provide greater tuition predictability for Colorado families and to ensure an accessible and affordable public higher education system for years to come.

“I’m delighted to hear they’re working on a different way to fund higher education, because we can price ourselves right out of the market for middle class students,” Richter said. “It’s just too expensive.”

If every deadline for the new formula is reached, the new funding formula will be taken into account for the 2015-2016 school year.

©2014 the Greeley Tribune (Greeley, Colo.). Visit the Greeley Tribune (Greeley, Colo.) at www.greeleytribune.com. Distributed by MCT Information Services