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Higher Education Legislation in 2013635247670

Higher Education Legislation in 2013

Dustin Weeden 1/8/2014

States increased funding for higher education by an average of 5 percent in 2013 making the appropriations process one of the year’s most significant legislative trends. After several years of budget deficits or minimal revenue growth, state legislators in 43 states took advantage of strong tax revenues in 2013 to increase funding for higher education institutions. This increased state support combined with tuition freezes by institutions in 13 states led to the lowest average tuition increase since the early 1980s. Even with a small break in tuition increases, college affordability and student loan debt remained a primary concern of students and their families and a top legislative priority. Other legislative trends in 2013 included the success of veterans, in-state tuition for undocumented students, online learning, workforce development, transfer and articulation, and performance funding.

Student Loans and Affordability

College studentsThe total amount of student loan debt in the United States recently crossed the $1 trillion threshold to become the second largest category of household debt in the country behind home mortgages. Mounting concern over student loan debt coupled with perennial concerns about the affordability of college led state policymakers to take several actions in 2013. Connecticut, New Jersey and Texas passed legislation to improve the quality of financial aid information available and the financial literacy of students. New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming passed legislation to create loan repayment programs that will assist teachers who meet certain requirements. Texas also passed legislation to offer students fixed tuition rates for four years at certain institutions while Oregon passed legislation to study offering fixed tuition rates at all four-year institutions. Colorado and Virginia passed legislation that will make saving for college easier by allowing residents to directly deposit income tax refunds into college savings accounts. Finally, Arizona and Indiana passed legislation to allow state entities to become direct lenders of student loans.

State

Legislation

Arizona

House Bill 2489: Allows a corporation to issue bonds and refund bonds to finance student loans under certain circumstances.

Colorado

Senate Bill 206: Allows individual taxpayers to directly deposit state income tax refunds in a college savings account administered by CollegeInvest.

Connecticut

House Bill 5500: Requires each institution of higher education (including for-profit institutions) licensed to operate in the state to provide uniform financial aid information to every prospective student who has been accepted for admission to the institution. The information will be provided before each institution's enrollment deadline in order for students to make informed decisions regarding enrollment.

Indiana

Senate Bill 532: Permits the Indiana Secondary Market for Education Loans Inc. to become a direct lender of postsecondary education loans for purposes of attending both Indiana and non-Indiana postsecondary educational institutions.

New Jersey

Assembly Bill 1083: Requires the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) to develop a student loan repayment information document, post the document on its website, and annually distribute the document to school districts that include grades 9 through 12 and to nonpublic high schools.

New Mexico

House Bill 53: Establishes the Teacher Loan Repayment Fund to offer loan repayment award grants to eligible teachers in designated high-risk teacher positions.

Oregon

House Bill 3472: Directs the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to study whether public universities can implement a tuition freeze that will guarantee incoming undergraduate students pay the same tuition rate for four years. The bill also directs the commission to study the feasibility of creating a pilot program that would allow students to pay a percent of income for a specified number of years rather than paying tuition while enrolled at a public institution.

Texas

House Bill 29: Requires the governing boards of general academic teaching institutions to offer entering undergraduates, including transfer students, the opportunity to participate in a fixed tuition price plan that will last for at least 12 consecutive semesters, subject to restrictions and qualifications. Students must accept the plan at initial enrollment.

Texas

House Bill 680: Establishes the Student Loan Default Prevention and Financial Literacy pilot program to improve student loan default rates and to improve financial aid literacy among postsecondary students. The pilot program will be administered at selected postsecondary educational institutions to ensure that students of those institutions are informed consumers with regard to all aspects of student financial aid.

Texas

Senate Bill 1720: Establishes the Math and Science Scholars Loan Repayment Program to assist in the repayment of  student loans for eligible persons who agree to teach mathematics or science for a specified period in school districts that receive federal funding under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Virginia

Senate Bill 1220: Permits taxpayers to deposit all or any part of an income tax refund into their state college savings plan accounts.

Wyoming

House Bill 163: Establishes the Wyoming Adjunct Professor Loan Repayment Program to provide assistance to public school teachers in attaining necessary qualifications to provide instruction in concurrent enrollment programs.

 

Support for Veterans and Current Service Members

As a growing number of veterans enter postsecondary institutions, states enacted several policies to promote the success of this student group. Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana and Virginia all enacted bills that provide tuition relief through waivers, grants or resident tuition rates. Missouri, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia all passed bills that will enable veterans to receive college credit for military training or service. Additionally, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington, and West Virginia passed bills to provide programs and services that promote the successful transition of veterans in the classroom.

State

Legislation

Arkansas

House Bill 2106: Amends tuition waivers for national guard soldiers and airmen to allow institutions to waive 100% of tuition.

California

Senate Bill 290: Exempts eligible veteran students from paying nonresident tuition at California Community Colleges and California State University campuses if the student files an affidavit stating specified information about residency and uses the exemption within a specified time period of being discharged.

Illinois

Senate Bill 2229: Beginning with the 2013-2014 academic year, any person who has served more than 10 years in the Illinois National Guard will be awarded an additional grant to the public university or community college of his or her choice, consisting of an exemption from tuition and fees for not more than the equivalent of an additional two years of full-time enrollment, including summer terms.

Indiana

Senate Bill 207: Honorably discharged veterans who enroll at public institutions within 12 months after the date of discharge from the armed forces are eligible for the resident tuition rate for undergraduate courses.

Missouri

Senate Bill 106: Requires all public postsecondary institutions award veterans educational credits for courses that are part of the student's military training or service.

Missouri

Senate Bill 117: Provides that any individual who is in the process of separating from any branch of the military forces of the United States with an honorable discharge or a general discharge shall have resident status for purposes of admission and in-state tuition at any approved public two- or four-year institution. To be eligible for student resident status under this section, students must demonstrate presence and declare residency.

New Hampshire

House Bill 519: Requires that the Division of Higher Education in the Department of Education develop and adopt a policy on academic credit for a student's military occupation, military training, coursework, and experience, and to consult with institutions of higher education in implementing the policy.

New Jersey

Senate Bill 1961: Establishes the Veterans Higher Education Commission to study and make recommendations on how to best facilitate the successful transition of veterans into the higher education community by examining policies and programs that will increase the percentage of veterans earning postsecondary certificates and degrees, and that successfully transition veterans enrolled in institutions of higher education back to civilian life through services such as specialized counseling and career services.

Rhode Island

Senate Bill 638: Requires that public higher education institutions adopt a policy and promulgate regulations to award educational credits to veterans for courses that were part of the student's military training.

Rhode Island

House Bill 5856: Establishes veteran-friendly educational programs for all state institutions in order to allow service personnel returning from a combat tour to achieve educational attainment in an accelerated manner. The bill requires the State Board of Education ensure enrolled students are awarded education credits based upon their military training or service.

South Carolina

Senate Bill 417: Enacts the Military Service Occupation, Education, and Credentialing Act that allows public, post-secondary institutions to award educational credit to an honorably discharged member of the Armed Forces for a course that is part of his or her military training or service, subject to certain conditions.

Utah

House Bill 254: Requires colleges and universities within the state higher education system to award credit for certain military service training and experience as recommended by a postsecondary accreditation agency or association designated by the State Board of Regents.

Virginia

House Bill 195: Requires the governing boards of each public higher education institution implement policies to award academic credit for educational experience gained from military service.

Virginia

Senate Bill 1242: Makes veterans residing within Virginia eligible for in-state tuition charges.

Washington

Senate Bill 5343: Provides that a member of the State National Guard or any other military service component who is a student at a postsecondary institution and misses any specified educational related events as a result of that service is entitled to make up those events without prejudice to the final course grade or evaluation.

West Virginia

House Bill 2491: Establishes a uniform course completion policy for higher education students performing certain military service. The goal of this policy is to ensure that enrolled students who are called to military duty are afforded a fair and efficient procedure of withdrawing from classes, or completing course work.

 

In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students

Colorado, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Oregon passed legislation that allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates. Seventeen states now have provisions allowing for in-state tuition rates for undocumented students.

State

Legislation

Colorado

Senate Bill 33: Permits in-state tuition for undocumented students who have attended a Colorado high school for three years and graduated from a Colorado high school or received their GED in the state. Student must sign affidavit to seek legalization upon eligibility.

Minnesota

House Bill 875: Permits in-state tuition for undocumented students. Requires students to have attended a Minnesota high school for three years or more and have graduated from a Minnesota high school or equivalent. Must also provide affidavit stating student will apply for legal residence when eligible.

New Jersey

Assembly Bill 4225: Allows students, including students without lawful immigration status, to pay in-state tuition at public institutions of higher education if the following criteria are met: attended a high school in New Jersey for three years or more; graduated from a New Jersey high school or attained the equivalent of a high school diploma; registers as an entering student or is currently enrolled in a public institution of higher education not earlier than the fall semester of the 2013-2014 academic year; and files an affidavit with the institution of higher education stating that the student has filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status or will file an application as soon as the student is eligible to do so.

Oregon

House Bill 2787: Provides that the State Board of Higher Education shall exempt a student who is not a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States from paying nonresident tuition and fees for enrollment in a public university if the student, among other requirements, attended an elementary or a secondary school in this state and has the intention to become a citizen or a lawful permanent resident.

 

Workforce Development

Recognizing the need for a well-educated workforce in the modern economy, several states passed legislation in 2013 to improve the human capital of residents. Colorado, Maine and Texas focused on improving career and technical education. Indiana passed a bill to develop the state’s workforce by improving information and coordination. Tennessee created a program that allows participants to combine occupational training with academic credit to earn postsecondary credentials. Texas passed a bill to study workforce needs and determine if any regions would benefit from community colleges granting baccalaureate degrees. Nebraska and New Jersey made financial assistance available for internships and basic skills training respectively.

State

Legislation

Colorado

House Bill 1005: Directs the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education to implement a pilot program of 20 career and technical education certificate programs that combine basic education in information and math literacy with career and technical education. The bill allows a community college, local district junior college, area vocational school or local adult education program to offer the certificate programs.

Indiana

House Bill 1002: Establishes the state career council to increase the cohesion among participants in the state's education, job skills development, and career training system. The bill also establishes the workforce intelligence system as a statewide longitudinal data system that contains educational and workforce information.

Maine

Senate Bill 506: Establishes a collaborative of publicly supported educational institutions in the state to implement a program that enables career and technical education students to earn college credits while attending high school.

Nebraska

Legislative Bill 476: Makes changes to the job training cash fund to allow businesses to apply for grants to hire student interns.

New Jersey

Senate Bill 873: Establishes the Supplemental Workforce Fund for Basic Skills to provide funding for basic skills training. The fund will be used to provide basic skills training for qualified displaced, disadvantaged and employed workers, and for other individuals with learning disabilities or otherwise in need of vocational rehabilitation services, and a grant to the State Community College Consortium.

Tennessee

House Bill 566: Requires the Higher Education Commission, in consultation with the department of labor and any other entity the commission deems appropriate, to produce an annual report regarding state workforce need projections and credential production.

Tennessee

House Bill 1276: Creates the Labor Education Alignment Program to provide students at technology centers and community colleges the opportunity to combine occupational training in a high-skill or high-technology industry with academic credit and to apply that combined work and academic experience toward acquiring a postsecondary credential.

Texas

Senate Bill 414: Directs the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to conduct a study of regional workforce needs in this state to determine the regions  that would benefit from certain public junior colleges offering baccalaureate degree programs to address regional workforce needs.

Texas

Senate Bill 441: Establishes the State Fast Start Program, which is a career and technical education program designated to help students earn postsecondary certificates and degrees and enter into the workforce quickly. The Texas Workforce Commission, in partnership with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, will identify and develop methods to support competency-based, rapid-deployment education delivery models for use by public junior colleges, public state colleges and public technical institutes. The models must be designed to assist students in maximizing academic or workforce education program credit from public junior colleges, public state colleges, and public technical institutes to expedite the entry of those students into the workforce.

 

Transfer and Articulation

California, Indiana, North Carolina and Oregon all passed legislation in 2013 designed to improve transfer pathways for students from community colleges to four-year institutions.

State

Legislation

California

Senate Bill 440: Requires community colleges to create an associate degree for transfers in every major and area of emphasis offered by that college for any approved transfer model curriculum. Requires California State University campuses to accept transfer model curriculum-aligned associate degrees for transfer in every major or concentration offered by the University.

Indiana

Senate Bill 182: Replaces articulation agreements related to the transfer of credits between state institutions with the development of a common curriculum and common standards for the transfer of associate degree credits leading to a baccalaureate degree. The courses in the core transfer library must draw from the liberal arts in technical, professional and occupational fields.

Maryland

Senate Bill 740: Represents a broad effort to improve degree attainment among Maryland residents. This bill establishes a statewide transfer agreement where students are able to transfer 60 credit hours earned toward an associate’s degree to any four-year institution for credit toward a bachelor’s degree. In addition, the bill establishes a reverse transfer agreement where at least 30 credit hours earned toward a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution are transferable toward an associate’s degree at Maryland community colleges.

North Carolina

House Bill 903: Requires all constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina to fully adhere to the comprehensive articulation agreement with the North Carolina community college system regarding the transfer of courses and academic credits between the two systems and the admission of transfer students. The bill also directs the University of North Carolina and the North Carolina community college system to report biannually regarding the agreement to the joint legislative education oversight committee.

Oregon

House Bill 2970: Directs the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to develop standards related to requirements for associate transfer degree in specific areas of study, including business and engineering. The commission is directed to develop processes to minimize the number of credit hours that students who have earned an associate transfer degree would need to complete prior to receiving baccalaureate degrees.

Oregon

House Bill 2979: Directs the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to convene a work group that will examine and recommend adoption of strategies to facilitate student transfers between public colleges and universities in Oregon. Specifically directs the work group to study how to establish common course numbering system for lower-division undergraduate courses in Oregon public colleges and universities.

 

Online Learning

Online learning has been around for many years in various forms, but current state budget constraints combined with innovations such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have renewed interest in the role technology will play in postsecondary education. In California, students enrolled at a California State University (CSU) are now able to take online courses offered by other CSU institutions. In Florida, the Board of Education and Board of Governors are charged with developing rules to enable high schools students to earn academic credit for online courses including MOOCs.

State

Legislation

California

Assembly Bill 386: Under this bill, students enrolled at a California State University (CSU) campus will have the opportunity to enroll in online courses available at other CSU campuses. As long as space is available, any student enrolled at a CSU campus who meets specified requirements can enroll in an online course offered by another CSU campus without formal admission and without payment of additional tuition or fees.

Florida

House Bill 7029: Beginning in the 2015-2016 school year, the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors shall adopt rules that enable students to earn academic credit for online courses, including massive open online courses, prior to initial enrollment at a postsecondary institution. The rules of the State Board of Education and rules of the Board of Governors must include procedures for credential evaluation and the award of credit, including, but not limited to, recommendations for credit by the American Council on Education; equivalency and alignment of coursework with appropriate courses; course descriptions; type and amount of credit that may be awarded; and transfer of credit.

 

Performance Funding

In an effort to align state goals with those of postsecondary institutions, a growing number of states have begun allocating some amount of higher education funding based on the outcomes produced by institutions. In 2013, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina and North Dakota joined 17 other states in allocating a portion of higher education funding based on how well institutions performed on specific metrics. In addition, Arizona and South Dakota approved changes to existing performance funding systems.

State

Legislation

Arizona

The fiscal year 2014 appropriations bill included a note stating that beginning in FY 2015 all state allocations above the base funding amount will be allocated according to the  performance funding formula developed by the Board of Regents. This is a change from the previous two fiscal years when $5 million was allocated each year according to the performance funding formula.

Maine

In 2013, the Maine University system began transitioning to a new performance funding system. Five percent of the system’s base funding will be allocated according to the performance funding formula this year. This amount will increase 5% each year until 30% of base funding is awarded according to on the performance formula. Metrics of the performance formula include:

  • Degrees awarded—additional points awarded for community college transfer students and adults over age 30 earning degrees
  • Degrees in STEM, Allied Health and other high priority fields
  • Number of research grants and contracts received during the year
  • Dollar value of research grants and contracts received during the year
  • Number of degrees awarded per $100,000 of net tuition and fee revenues and State Education and General appropriations scaled by matriculated FTE.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts allocated $20 million in new money for community colleges based on performance in 2013. In future years, 50% of base funding is expected to be awarded based on performance metrics such as:

  • Number of certificate and associate completions
  • Number of transfer students
  • Number of  students achieving 30 credits
  • Number of students completing first full math and English courses
  • Graduation rates

Mississippi

In 2013, Mississippi began allocating 10% of base funding for four-year institutions based on the following metrics:

  • Degrees awarded
  • Number of students with an  ACT score of 19 or lower who successfully complete first college-level English or math course
  • Number of students who complete 30 credit hours
  • Number of students who complete 60 credit hours
  • Includes research expenditures, technology transfer/ entrepreneurship data and patents/licenses—research universities only
  • Number of undergraduate degrees awarded per 100 FTE
  • Number of graduate degrees awarded per 100 FTE
  • Number of degrees awarded per $100,000 in revenue

North Carolina

North Carolina allocated $24 million in new money for community colleges based on how well institutions met goals for each of the following measures:

  • First year progression
  • Licensure and certification passing rate
  • Developmental student success rate in college‐level English courses
  • Developmental student success rate in college‐level math courses
  • Curriculum completion
  • College transfer performance
  • Basic skills student progress
  • GED diploma passing rate

North Dakota

Senate Bill 2200: Establishes a new funding formula for postsecondary institutions that allocates state funds primarily on the number of students who complete courses rather than the number of students enrolled in courses at the beginning of a term.

South Dakota

Senate Bill 5: Defines the public purpose and goals of postsecondary education in South Dakota and creates the Council on Higher Education Policy Goals, Performance, and Accountability. The Council is responsible for developing metrics to measure progress toward achieving the stated goals and developing a performance funding formula.

 

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