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By Doug Brown, Public Policy Researcher

Today surrounded by leaders from the State System of Higher Education, including Board Chairman Guido Pichini, leaders of the state-related universities, members of the Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education, and House and Senate members, Governor Tom Corbett announced his proposal to flat fund state-owned and state-related universities in exchange for their commitment to keep tuition “as low as possible.”  

After announcing level funding, Governor Corbett and Department of Education Secretary Ron Tomalis broadly outlined plans to develop a long-term performance-based funding system for higher education stemming from the Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education recommendations released last November.

Providing few specifics other than the fact that tuition/cost control will be a major component of the plan, the governor said that his administration and the Department of Education would be working with the legislature and higher education officials in the coming months to develop their plan. The Advisory Commission made the following recommendations in November:

  • Base state appropriations should never fall below $1.67 billion (2012-13 level). Any performance funding should be additional and should not supplant base appropriations.
  • A four-year transitional period should be established to allow institutions to adapt to performance standards. During the first year, a scorecard will be developed and used to measure institutional performance. Metrics to determine performance will include some that are specific to sector, as well as a common set for all higher education institutions, such as cost-controls, tuition containment, and graduation rates.
  • During the second and third years, $256 million would be available as performance funding on top of the base appropriation. Schools would compete for this funding, but it would be allocated based on guidelines recognizing the differences in sectors. After these two years, the $256 million would be used to create a new base funding level of $1.93 billion.
  • During year four and beyond, the state would add additional performance funding on top of the $1.93 billion in base funding.

If the Governor follows the commission’s recommendation and uses performance funding as a supplement to a healthy base appropriation, there is a chance PASSHE universities will see an increase in state support. APSCUF’s goal is to ensure that any legislative proposal coming from the commission’s recommendations includes faculty input and maintains quality public higher education for the citizens of the Commonwealth.