Who should have control over higher education funding C the schools or their students? Thatrrrs the true question being increasingly asked inside a debate that is reminiscent of the one being waged over vouchers in K-12 schools.
The volume of the debate is getting louder, particularly in Pennsylvania where Republican lawmakers are looking at ways to tie the state’s higher education budget to students, providing them with more freedom to select a school that matches them best.
This year, Pennsylvania intends to spend more than $500 million around the four so-called \”state-related\” universities -?Penn State, Pittsburgh, Temple?and?Lincoln?- and the other $412 million on the Pennsylvania State System better Education, an accumulation of 14 smaller schools scattered round the state.
At the same time, the state is spending $361 million on student aid that\’s handled through the?Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, or PHEAA, which oversees student grants and scholarships.
Since the state spends money in both ways, it’s logical to inquire about which way is more effective in delivering quality education to students. Asking this very question was State Senator Mike Folmer C a Republican from Lebanon and also the chairman from the Senate Education Committee C when the heads from the four largest state-supported universities came to testify about the budget bill. Specifically, these were asked to speculate what can change when the higher education funding was tied entirely towards the student and never to the school.
Unsurprisingly, the administrators didn’t look kindly on the funding change, saying that allowing the cash to follow the student would \”undermine the system and compromise its quality.\” Putting the larger education funding on a less firm ground would serve the weaken the pubic universities and therefore close an avenue that many lower-income students depend on to obtain a college degree.
But Folmer says it\’s an idea that should be considered, particularly because the state budget is squeezed.
\”I comprehend the needs of the universities,\” Folmer said. \”But we must remember that those dollars come from taxpayers and we have to find the easiest method to spend them.\”
Meanwhile, the expense of higher education keep increasing.
The state product is expecting a 2.8 percent tuition increase the coming year in their budget proposal, Garland said.
Although the issue is not expected to consider center stage this season, the fact that it\’s being raised at all can serve as an indication of what\’s to come later on of higher education reform.