IHL proposes new funding system for MS universities - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

IHL proposes new funding system for MS universities

Since the early 1990's, Mississippi state universities have been funded by a system based on the number of enrolled students. However, these enrollment numbers have not been updated since the system was implemented nearly two decades ago.

"10% of the students back in 1993, they basically received 10% of the dollars. Well now they could have 15% or 5%, but they still receive 10% of the dollars," explained Dr. Hank Bounds, Commissioner of Higher Education.

A performance based allocation system has now been presented, which proponents say holds universities accountable for the success of its students.

"About 35% of the universities revenue and it drives it based on completed credit hours, and then certain attainment features," said Dr. Bounds

Off the top, each university would be given a set amount for operational support. From here, 90% of the remaining funds would be disbursed based on cost to teach courses and the performance of the students within these courses.

"90% is based on completed credit hours. And it recognizes the fact that a freshman level English course is not as expensive to teach as a senior level nursing course. So the model weights credit hours," explained Dr. Bounds.

The remaining 10% would then be disbursed among the universities, based on the number of at risk students, research activity, graduation rates, and the number of students in priority fields.

"So we really try to think about the population that we have here in Mississippi, and we try to think of the fields where we need additional people. STEM graduates, science, technology, engineering, mathematics. We need more healthcare professionals, and we need more and better educators," said Dr. Bounds.

Based on current student success and attainment rates, Southern Miss would stand to lose 7.5%, spread over a maximum of 2% per year. However, thanks to legislative funding, these cuts won't happen for the 2014 fiscal year.

"The legislature was really good to us, and they gave to us what called hold harmless money. So during this first year of transition, USM won't lose a penny. In fact, they are going to be plused up about 1.7%, to cover new cost of retirement. And so that gives the new president a 15 month running start to make certain that he looks at that why is it that we aren't being as productive as we should be," explained Dr. Bounds.

Thursday, the proposed system will go before the State Institutions of Higher Learning board for approval.

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