What do state policies say about how to fund postsecondary education?

This 50-State Comparison answers this question by searching state statutes, state rules and regulations, enacted state budget bills and state postsecondary education agency policies that address postsecondary education budgeting and funding.

First, this resource inventories where publicly available state policies exist and provides citations that underpin postsecondary education budgeting and funding in the state.

Next, this comparison examines whether the budget request process is centralized across institutions or groups of institutions within the state.

Finally, according to the content of the publicly available policies, this resource categorizes the funding models in place and identifies a selection of their underlying drivers, including student enrollment, faculty or facilities needs, completion metrics, and workforce development metrics.

While this comparison categorizes and inventories common funding drivers dictated in policy within and across states, it does not provide information about funding levels or the degree to which practice mirrors the policies detailed here. Especially in the context of an economic recession, it may be common for states to use alternative methods to allocate funding to postsecondary education.

Education Commission of the States makes every effort to be as comprehensive as possible in all of its publications, and the nuances of funding policy can be difficult to capture. If you have any questions about the information in this 50-State Comparison, please click here to contact the research team directly.

Click on the metrics below for 50-State Comparisons showing how all states approach these policies. Or view a specific state’s approach by going to the individual state profiles page.

50-State Comparisons

  1. Policy Citations: Does state statute, state rule or regulation, state agency policy, an enacted budget bill, or other publicly available policy document guide the postsecondary education funding process?
  2. Budget Request Process: Do individual institutions request funding from the legislature, is a consolidated budget request process required, or is another process in place?
  3. Funding Model: Which method(s) — a base model, a base plus, a formula or another method — is/are used for funding postsecondary education?
  4. Enrollment: Does the state’s funding model require an enrollment metric, provide an option to include an enrollment metric, or not address enrollment at all?
  5. Faculty, Facilities and Student Support Services: Does the state’s funding model require a metric related to faculty, facilities or student support services; provide an option to include a metric related to faculty, facilities or student support services; or not address faculty, facilities or student support services at all?
  6. Course or Program Completion Metrics: Does the state’s funding model require a metric related to course or program completion, provide an option to include a metric related to course or program completion, or not address course or program completion at all?
  7. Workforce Development or Transfer: Does the state’s funding model require a metric related to workforce participation or transfer, provide an option to include a metric related to workforce participation or transfer, or not address workforce participation or transfer at all?

Key Takeaways

  • Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have an adopted state statute that addresses postsecondary education budgeting processes or funding models for at least one institution or sector.
  • Thirty states account for student enrollment in their funding model for at least one institution or sector. An additional three states provide an option to include an enrollment metric in the model.
  • Sixteen states account for postsecondary education facilities and/or faculty or staff salaries within their funding model for at least one institution or sector.
  • Twenty-nine states account for course or program completion metrics within their funding model for at least one institution or sector. An additional three states provide an option to include course or program completion metrics.
  • Sixteen states account for workforce development or transfer metrics within their funding model for at least one institution or sector. An additional four states provide an option to include workforce development or transfer metrics.

Related Resources


 PUBLISHED: July 15, 2020

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