Major Changes Proposed to Community College Funding

Texas State Capitol Building | Image by Shutterstock

The Texas Commission on Community College Finance (TCCCF) put together a legislative draft on September 5 that could change the way that local community colleges receive funding.

The TCCCF is commissioned by the Texas Legislature and meets periodically to discuss changes to the education system. Come January, the Legislature will hear proposals and make a decision on whether to implement what would amount to a complete overhaul of community college funding.

The overhaul would fund institutions based largely on how many students graduate with degrees or go on to a four-year university. Today, Texas community colleges are funded primarily without regard to student performance.

Presently, 90% of funding is decided by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s (THECB) Report of Fundable Operating Expenses, which estimates an hourly rate at which schools and other institutions should be funded. Only 10% is decided by the THECB Student Success Point model, which takes into account 10 different metrics such as student reading performance, writing performance, and degrees awarded.

Instead of the current system of allocating a set amount of state money for each school, the proposed legislation would primarily base financing on a formula analyzing outcomes after college, with some added safety nets for underperforming schools. Each school would be guaranteed a minimum amount of money to ensure that schools in areas that collect lots of property taxes do not overshadow schools in lower-taxed areas.

“These recommendations would establish Texas as a national leader in using outcomes-based funding to support community colleges in addressing rapidly changing needs for a highly skilled workforce,” the draft report reads.

Along with the new finance model, the draft also recommends more need-based financial aid, which takes into account a student’s financial situation and offers assistance in paying for schooling. To fund more aid, the Texas Legislature has reportedly been open to considering a transfer of $100 million in stimulus funding to needs-based programs.

Currently, Texas can only fulfill 28% of need-based grant requests, according to the THECB. The legislation would aim to raise that number to at least 70%.

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