By Jason Gonzales, Chalkbeat Colorado
This story was originally published by Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization covering public education. Sign up for their newsletters here: ckbe.at/newsletters
For years, Colorado has funded its public higher education institutions primarily by how many students they can enroll. Now the state instead will weigh more heavily how well an institution is serving its students.
The shift, expected to go into place in the 2021-22 school year, will reward schools for educating different types of students — especially those who are disadvantaged — by providing money based on seven metrics that include those who are of color, low-income, the first to go to college in their family, and from Colorado.
College leaders say the change will align resources to state goals and help encourage institutions to provide resources for the neediest students to complete their education.
Adams State University President Cheryl Lovell said the current funding formula mostly weighs enrollment — more than 80% of funding is dependent on overall student population.
“This new formula is about access and affordability. It’s about recognizing first-generation and underrepresented students,” Lovell said.
The state is required to revisit its higher education funding formula every five years, said Angie Paccione, Colorado Department of Higher Education executive director. Lawmakers must approve changes for them to go into effect, and the bill has easily moved through the state legislature.
Colorado Community College System President Joe Garcia said the state has shifted over the years toward adding performance-based goals for schools. The state is falling in line with some of the changes nationally in looking more at overall performance, although each state varies in how they allocate funds to schools.
“I’ve always said that the students on whom we’re spending the most money are the students who are most likely to be successful anyway,” Garcia said.