Education

Higher Ed Budgets Begin Initial Legislative Review

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January 13, 2015 — TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – State higher education officials asked the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee on Monday to increase the amount of university funding that will be allotted to rewarding schools for performance.

“It has been the commission’s belief in partnership with the legislature that doing this in a steady, but very intentional way gives the institution the opportunity to adapt those changes in a more sustainable way of doing performance funding,” said Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers.

The commission recommended increasing the portion of overall university operating budgets that are allocated based on performance from 6 percent now to 7 in 2016, and then to 8 percent in 2017. That equals roughly $180 million in performance funding over the next two years.

That means overall – when money for university construction and other spending is included – performance funding would make up 4.4 percent of the higher education budget.

Lubbers said the commission’s “guiding principles” for developing budgets for higher education include maintaining a commitment to student financial aid, maintaining the state’s support for higher education, using inflation indices to inform recommended higher education funding, and aligning recommendations to the state’s “Reaching Higher, Achieving More” strategic plan.

Through these guiding principles there are some substantial changes that will be made, especially to financial aid. Indiana awards more than $300 million in financial aid annually, making the Hoosier state No. 1 in the Midwest for aid, she said.

Lubbers said the commission wants to keep that aid focused on needy students. In order to do so, the commission is asking to flat line certain state financial aid programs at their current amounts.

These programs include the Frank O’Bannon scholarship, EARN Indiana, the Part-Time Grant, the Minority Teacher Scholarship, Student Teacher Stipends, the Mitch Daniels Early Graduation Scholarship, and the Primary Care Shortage Area Scholarship.

The commission also recommended flat-lining the Children of Veterans and Public Safety Officer Grants and the National Guard Supplemental Grant.

“Sometimes we haven’t had enough to pay for it,” Lubbers said.

The 21st Century Scholars Program will also be experiencing changes if Lubbers’ requests are approved.

Lubbers said that due to the enrollment increases and more students being qualified because of the recession, the state is struggling to pay for all the students.

While flat-lining financial aid will have an affect on incoming and present students of higher education for the next two years, the capital projects will impact people for years to come.

After receiving 31 project requests from various institutions across the state, the commission recommended seven projects. These include:

  • Ball State STEM & Health Professionals Facility Renovation & Expansion Project
  • Indiana State College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services Project
  • Ivy Tech Muncie New Construction & Renovations
  • IU Bloomington Old Crescent Renovation Phase II
  • Purdue University West Lafayette Agriculture & Life Sciences Facility
  • USI Classroom Renovation/Expansion Health Professionals Center
  • VU Center of Science, Engineering and Mathematics

Universities are scheduled to present their budget requests directly to lawmakers this week.

[Photo of Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers from Indiana Public Media]

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