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Higher Education Legislation 2012

Higher Education Legislation in 2012

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Many states enacted significant higher education legislation in 2012. Workforce development—connecting higher education to workforce needs and ensuring that students have the career skills necessary to be successful in the labor market—was a dominant topic this year. Legislators also enacted laws concerning time to degree, performance-based funding, remedial education, transfer and articulation, college costs, and prior learning assessments. This report provides highlights of bills from 2012 legislative sessions.

 

  Workforce Development

Policymakers want to guarantee that their states are well-positioned to meet current and future workforce demands by ensuring that their residents receive the necessary education and training to thrive in an increasingly knowledge-based economy. Legislators also are acting to make sure that graduates are entering high-need occupations in their states. In 2012, Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington enacted legislation aimed at improving the linkages between colleges and the workforce.

 

State

Legislation

Alaska

House Bill 78: Establishes a loan repayment program and employment incentive program for certain health care professionals, including dentists, pharmacists, physicians, nurses and social workers, who work in areas of Alaska experiencing shortages of health care services.

Colorado

House Bill 12-1061: Known as the Skills For Jobs Act, this legislation requires state agencies to produce an annual report regarding state workforce need projections and degree and certificate production. The report will indicate the workforce needs that are not being met, and it will identify public and private colleges that can meet projected workforce needs.

Iowa

House Bill 2458: Creates a loan repayment program for medical students who agree to practice as primary care physicians in rural areas of Iowa for five years.

Oregon

House Bill 4056: Creates the Task Force on STEM Access and Success for the purpose of encouraging students to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The task force will look at current STEM educational pathways in K-12 and postsecondary systems and will identify areas for improvement. This law also sets up a STEM Fund that will be used to award scholarships to students studying STEM fields.

Oregon

House Bill 4141: Directs the Governor and the State Workforce Investment Board to form an advisory committee to develop initiatives related to workforce development, and to propose legislation in 2013 that promotes the creation of a highly skilled, high-wage workforce, the alignment of resources to develop job creation, and increases coordination between institutions of higher education and labor and apprenticeship programs.

South Dakota

Senate Bill 177: Establishes a program to assist rural communities to recruit physicians, dentists, physician assistants, and nurses. These health care professionals are eligible for incentive payments equal to twice the amount of in-state tuition for the length of their program if they agree to practice in one of South Dakota's rural communities for at least three years. 

South Dakota

House Bill 1234: Creates the critical teaching needs scholarship program to encourage high school graduates to get a postsecondary degree in South Dakota for teaching, and to remain in state and work in a critical need area.

Utah

House Bill 514: Creates an educational program on the use of information technology within the public education and higher education systems to provide instruction on skills and competencies essential for the workplace and requested by employers. Requires the curriculum to be accessible online.

Utah Senate Bill 290: Provides funding for a career planning program called Utah Futures.
Washington

Senate Bill 6141: Creates the Lifelong Learning Program to provide the opportunity for employees, with the support of their employers, to create portable educational savings accounts that may be used to fund approved education and training. Participation in the program is voluntary. Washington is the first state to formally recognize Lifelong Learning Accounts (LiLAs).

Washington

 WA H 2159b: Provides competitive grants to highs school to implement training programs to prepare students for employment as entry-level aerospace assemblers or for employment in STEM fields. The goal of the legislation is to support courses and programs that begin in high school and build upon one another so that technical certificates and degrees are connected from high schools to community and technical colleges and four-year universities.

 

  Time to Degree

Every extra year that students take to complete a college degree diminishes the chance they will graduate. Extra time often means students are taking more credits than they need, costing states more money. In 2012, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and New Mexico enacted state legislation designed to help students graduate on time or early. Several of these policies include promoting or expanding dual enrollment programs.

 

State

Legislation

Idaho

House Bill 426: Creates the “8 in 6” Program to allow students to complete up to two years of college by the time they graduate high school. Students in the program will take extra online courses during the school year and over the summer to finish their middle and high school coursework early and start earning college credit during their junior and senior years. A portion of the online courses will be paid for by the State Department of Education.

Indiana

House Bill 1220: Limits the number of college credits needed for graduation to 60 credits for an associate degree and 120 credits for a bachelor’s degree. Universities must seek approval from the state Commission on Higher Education to require more credits than that.

Mississippi

Senate Bill 2792 – Provides for a dual enrollment program targeted to high school dropouts or students at risk of dropping out. Allows students to enroll at community colleges and earn a high school diploma while participating in job-training programs.

Missouri

Gov. Jay Nixon created a $10 million grant program for public colleges and universities to develop accelerated, three-year tracks for some students. The "Innovation Campus Grants" would help students pay for college classes during their high school years. Additional funding for the public-private partnership will come from federal community development block grants and corporate donors. Apprenticeships will be part of the college curriculum, helping students prepare for employment in high-demand businesses and industries. Program details

New Mexico

Senate Bill 256: Provides funding for tribal colleges that participate in the state’s dual credit program to offset waived tuition and fees.

 

  Performance Funding

As budgets continue to remain tight in the states, legislators are considering various strategies to fund higher education. A predominant strategy is to allocate a portion of higher education funding based on the performance of institutions in areas such as retention and graduation. In 2012, Michigan, New Mexico and South Dakota developed new performance funding programs.

 

State

Legislation

Michigan

House Bill 5372: The legislature passed a higher education budget containing a 3 percent increase in funding over last year for public universities. The new funding, totaling $36.2 million, will be tied to performance measures including graduation rates, the number of degrees awarded in science, technology, engineering, math and other critical area fields, and research and development expenditures. The formula also includes an incentive for universities to not increase tuition by more than four percent. To be eligible for the performance funding, universities must participate in the state's student transfer network, have reverse transfer agreements in place with at least three community colleges, and accept dual enrollment credits.

New Mexico

New Mexico’s FY2013 budget sets aside five percent of total higher education funding to be awarded based on performance. The performance-funding formula distinguishes missions between sectors, providing different metrics for each. The formula focuses on the following four outputs:

  • Course completion rate
  • Number of certificates and degrees awarded
  • Number of certificates and degrees awarded in state workforce priority areas (e.g. science, technology, engineering, health care and math)
  • Number of certificates and degrees earned by financially at-risk students.
South Dakota

South Dakota’s Board of Regents created a performance funding pilot program that uses $3 million in one-time state funding approved by the Legislature to be matched by universities’ base budgets. The $6 million of funding will be allocated to universities based on three years of degree production data. The pilot program will award institutions more funding for producing graduates in high-priority fields

 

  Remedial Education

Legislators continue to be concerned with reducing remediation and increasing the college and career readiness ofstudents. Connecticut and Kansas took action to reduce the offering of remedial courses. Colorado, Missouri, and New York enacted measures to increase college readiness and implement best practices in the delivery of remedial education. 

 

State

Legislation

Colorado

Senate Bill 12-047: Provides funding for public high schools to administer the basic skills placement test used by community colleges to students once during high school. The scores of the tests can be used to provide intervention to students in need of extra supports to reach college readiness and avoid remediation.

Colorado

House Bill 1155: Permits postsecondary institutions to use a variety of criteria for course placement, including grade point average and class rank.  In addition, this legislation allows remedial-level students to take college credit-bearing courses while receiving targeted academic support.

Connecticut

Senate Bill 40: Prohibits public institutions from offering more than one semester of remedial courses per student after the fall of 2014. Instead, students who need remediation will be enrolled in entry-level college courses that are embedded with remedial support. Institutions will also be required to offer a intensive college readiness programs that students could take before starting a semester of college.

Kansas

House Bill 2435: Prevents universities from using state funding for remedial courses after August 2015, unless the remedial course is being provided to students in the military, students over age 21, or international students who need remedial English.

Missouri

House Bill 1042: Requires the Coordinating Board for Higher Education to work with all public higher education institutions in identifying and using best practices in remediation and eliminating ineffective practices.

New York

Assembly Bill 9057: Directs the board of trustees of SUNY and CUNY to conduct a study on student remediation, and on strategies and programs to promote college readiness.

 

  Transfer & Articulation

Most students attend more than one institution before they earn a degree. A growing number of students see community colleges as a more affordable option to start their college career. States can help these students be successful by implementing transfer and articulation policies that ease the process and prevent the loss of already earned credits and valuable time. Action on this issue in 2012 focused on reverse transfer agreements, which allow students to combine credits earned at two-year colleges with those earned at four-year institutions to receive associate degrees.

 

State

Legislation

Colorado

Senate Bill 12-045: Creates reverse transfer agreements by developing a system in which students could combine credits earned at community colleges with those earned at four-year institutions to receive associate degrees.

Indiana

Senate Bill 182: Directs the Commission on Higher Education to develop a common course numbering system for  all courses in the core transfer library (i.e. general education courses) by May 2013. If students take all courses in the general education core and then transfer to a different college, they will not be required to take additional general education core courses.

Mississippi

House Bill 1042: Req uires all public higher education institutions to create by 2014 a statewide core transfer library of at least 25 entry-level courses that are transferable among the state’s institutions. In addition, the legislation requires the Coordinating Board for Higher Education to develop a reverse transfer policy under which students can combine credits from two- and four-year colleges to receive an associate degree.

Tennessee House Bill 2827: Authorizes and encourages community colleges and universities to enter into reverse transfer agreements.

 

  Paying for College

A topic always on the minds of state legislators is how to help students and families pay for college.  In 2012, several states enacted legislation pertaining to 529 plans, tuition policy, financial aid or financial literacy.

 

State

Legislation

Georgia

Gov. Nathan Deal created a needs-based, privately-funded state scholarship program called the REACH (Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen) Scholarship.  Middle school students selected for the program will pledge to maintain good behavior, keep a certain GPA,  and meet with a program mentor.  Students who meet those requirement will receive a yearly scholarship of $2,500. Some colleges, including Georgia Tech, Georgia State University and the University of Georgia, have pledged to match the scholarship. The REACH Scholarship is part of the “Complete College Georgia” initiative. Press Release.

Illinois

House Bill 3810: Ends the General Assembly’s legislative scholarship program. Prior to this law, Illinois was one of five states with programs where legislators can award college scholarships to constituents.

Mississippi

House Bill 1095:  Allows institutions to waive of out-of-state tuition for students residing in nearby states. The intent of the policy is to encourage people to earn their college degrees in Mississippi and remain in the state. Some universities in nearby states waive out-of-state tuition for Mississippi residents, but previous law did not allow Mississippi to reciprocate that policy.

Utah

House Bill 124: Grants in-state tuition rates to reserve members of the U.S. Armed Services who are stationed in Utah, as well as to honorably discharged veterans who have taken steps to establish residency in Utah.

Virginia

Senate Bill 599/House Bill 739: Creates the Virginia College Savings Plan Oversight Act, which requires the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to evaluate and oversee the state college savings plan. The commission will review the structure and governance of the Virginia 529 College Savings Plan; the structure of the investment portfolio; investment practices, policies and performance; and plan administration/management.

Washington Senate Bill 6121: Requires the Office of Student Financial Assistance to provide a financial aid counseling curriculum for college students receiving need-based grants.  The curriculum will be available online and will provide information on student loan options and financial literacy.


  Prior Learning Assessments & Credit

States are developing processes to award college credit or occupational licensure for a student's prior learning gained through work experience, military service, community involvement or independent study.  In 2012, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana and Virginia focused on only military service, while Colorado’s legislation covered other areas of prior learning.

State

Legislation

Colorado

House Bill 12-1072: Requires public institutions to develop a policy to award college credit for a student's prior learning through work experience, military service, community service, or independent study.

Florida House Bill 347:  Requires the Board of Governors and State Board of Education to develop rules and regulations for awarding college credit for education and training received during military service.
Hawaii House Bill 2639: Requires the University of Hawaii to award college credit for service in the United States armed forces under the college-credit equivalency program.
Idaho

Senate Bill 1299: Allows state colleges and universities to award academic credit for military education, training or service.  The legislation also permits professional and occupational licensing boards to count military education, training, or service toward licensure requirements.

Indiana

House Bill 1116: Calls for the development of policies to award academic credit for military service, and permits veterans to practice their occupation in Indiana if they completed a military program of training or meet other requirements.

Virginia

House Bill 195:  Requires the governing boards of state institutions to develop policies that award academic credit to students for educational experience gained from military service.


NCSL gratefully acknowledges Lumina Foundation for its financial support of this report.

 

 

 

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