Dear Commons Community,
Earlier this week, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities issued a report entitled, A Proposed Federal Matching Program to Stop the Privatization of Public Higher Education by Daniel J. Hurley, Thomas L. Harnisch and Barmak Nassirian, that recommends a new federal block grant program to the states for higher education. The goal of the proposed program is to give states some incentive to preserve and even raise the amount they spend on colleges, which has been in decline, and also to strengthen the federal commitment to affordable higher education. As per the graphic above, state funding per full-time equivalent students decreased 30 percent between 1987 and 2012. The report recommends:
“using existing federal resources to create a new federal matching grant program that leverages federal funds to incentivize states to boost operating support for public higher education, in turn mitigating tuition price increases and improving college affordability. These federal dollars will encourage states to both maintain their existing financial commitments toward public higher education access and affordability, and to make further investments in public colleges and universities. The integration of strong federal financial incentives will encourage governors and legislative leaders to reconsider cutting higher education funding and raising tuition as a budget balancing mechanism. A federal matching program will re-balance the state-federal responsibility for ensuring student access to high- quality, affordable college opportunities.”
This would be a real boon for public higher education but unfortunately matching block grants have not been the style in Washington, D.C. in recent decades and surely not during the Obama administration.