Commission on Equitable Public University Funding April 2023 Meeting Recap

April 17, 2023: Meeting Overview

The meeting started with an overview of the Technical Modeling Workgroup and its three charges: start with an equity centered adequacy target, create a conceptual model, and translate the concepts into a model. Then, commissioners talked about the proposed approach to calculating adequacy. The approach includes baseline spending, equity adjustment, base adjustment due to underfunding, and the adequacy target.

The Proposed Approach to Calculating Adequacy

Baseline spending: Per pupil funding levels for student centered access, academic supports, non-academic supports, core instruction costs.

Equity adjustment: Students would be placed in tiers based on characteristics including race, EBF tier, Pell recipient, adult learner, and rural. The equity adjustment would then be a different dollar amount for each tier.

Base adjustment to address underfunding: The funding formula should close equity gaps and ensure all students receive enough support to succeed. Adjusting the base funding based on research to increase graduation rates is a consideration that will continue to be discussed.

Mission: Research, Public Service & Artistry: In other states’ funding formulas, research is considered. Institutions with different missions and sizes need different resources.

Next Steps

Next steps for the Technical Modeling Workgroup include completing the adequacy target components. This includes equity adjustments, mission amounts, per student operations and maintenance amounts. They will also work to develop and model resource profile components: equitable student share, and counting other sources of revenue (endowments, grants, contracts).

Public Comment

A representative shared student comments that talked about including more resources for students with low GPA’s, making financial award letters more digestible, and the general unaffordability of public universities in Illinois.

Other commenters said the model should focus on students and ensure equity, not just equality, and transparency and accountability will be important for institutions going forward. It was emphasized that the underserved and overlooked communities of color, rural communities, and socially marginalized students deserve pathways to sufficiency. It is critical that we act now to ensure students receive support needed to transform their lives, the lives of their families, and the lives of their communities.

The importance of research was emphasized by a commenter, stating that students who work on research benefit as well as the institutions. Research needs to be a part of how Illinois equitably allocates funding to Illinois public universities.