Commission on Equitable Public University Funding May 2023 Meeting Recap

Technical Modeling Workgroup Overview & Update

The workgroup presented a proposed approach for calculating adequacy targets. Baseline spending plus equity adjustment plus base adjustment equals the adequacy target. Components include instruction and student services, research & public service mission, and operations and maintenance. Forthcoming adjustments include a small school/size factor and a concentration factor.

The commissioners’ discussion following the presentation raised questions about how institutions are expected to implement funds, and what accountability metrics will be in place. Key takeaways included:

  • Emphasis on trust in the universities. While the Commission bases the adequacy target off of research-based practices, it is not necessarily expected that every institution is implementing each of the evidence-based practices that were identified
  • Important to generate adequate data to offer appropriate evaluation, especially for outcome measures that take time to show results (e.g. test scores, graduation rates).
  • Finding a balance between input and output metrics for accountability
  • Concerns about Illinois’ outmigration of students due to cost, and how/if the formula makes Illinois competitive.

Affordability and Expected UIF Discussion

The Commission shared the problem statement surrounding affordability and the expected UIF calculation: Tuition levels impact equitable access, which is exacerbated by state disinvestment. Schools that enroll high levels of low-income students can’t and shouldn’t rely as much on tuition for revenue to meet the adequacy target. A new approach should encourage enrollment of low-income students and ensure tuition isn’t used as a release valve to meet adequacy costs.

The approach under consideration is to define state share levels that indicate how much on average the state will cover the adequacy cost for students of different characteristics. An institution’s expected UIF would be based on the percentage of students at that school in each state share level. This approach advances the principle that students in the higher state share levels (e.g., low-income, students of color) will lower a university’s expected UIF, which increases its gap and brings in more state resources. This would be paired with incentives in the formula for universities to lower their tuition in order to match their actual UIF to the expected UIF.

Commissioners raised some concerns about the lack of data availability for groups like adult learners and graduate programs. There is also a need for more clarity on where MAP and Pell are factored into affordability, and the ability to direct adequate funding to priority populations. Finally, there was a discussion of whether room and board be included in UIF calculations.

Next Steps

The upcoming June 9, 2023 Commission meeting will be canceled to allow the Technical Modeling workgroup to continue to refine the components and recommendations. The June 29, 2023 Commission meeting would be kept as scheduled. There was also a recommendation to continue the work through Fall 2023, with meetings scheduled for September 2023 and October 2023, with the Technical Modeling Workgroup continuing to meet over the summer months

Public Comment

Jennifer Delaney, member of the IBHE and faculty member at UIUC shared a conceptual concern about the way the concept of adequacy is being applied to higher education