While the Commission will reconvene its general meetings on September 1, there are currently two workgroups that will each discuss and inform the Commission’s work once full meetings return. The Adequacy Workgroup and the Resources Workgroup meet regularly to expand capacity around each of these two parts of the formula to dig deeper, create further understanding, and better inform the Commission’s work prior to the July 2023 deadline for a recommendation. 

Similar to the full Commission meetings, these meetings are open to the public and can be found here. Add your voice to the conversation about the future of Illinois higher education by giving public comment at an upcoming meeting. 

Commission Adequacy Workgroup Meets; Discusses Literature Review of Existing Research and Path Forward

On July 14, the adequacy working group of the Commission on Equitable Public University Funding met to continue its work toward creating a more equitable funding model for Illinois’ public higher education institutions. 

In their efforts to further understand how to measure adequacy in the future funding model, commissioners explored the impact of current strategies being used by higher education institutions across the country and what student-centered aspects of adequacy would need to look like to ensure equitable outcomes for all. 

Commissioners were assigned different readings, which can be found here, prior to the meeting and then presented a literature review of what they learned to the larger group for discussion about what the findings could mean for Illinois. 

Findings and Data from Readings and Takeaways

According to the literature and research reviewed by the group, past decreases in state funding for public universities have led to overall decreases in student enrollment. Similarly, the group also found that a lack of funding at the state level can result in institutions focusing more on students who can afford to pay for college rather than those who will need aid and other assistance to cover tuition costs. According to the research, student aid often doesn’t take indirect costs into account, housing, transportation, food, and other costs must be taken into consideration when addressing how to adequately fund student needs. Meeting participants additionally emphasized the importance of recognizing these different characteristics of student populations when addressing adequacy in the formula. The commissioners emphasized that adequacy needs may look different based on a student’s background and as such must be addressed and considered in this part of the formula. 

Commissioners found that graduation rates aren’t an entirely effective way to measure institutional success, particularly if they don’t offer direct explanations of which students are graduating, according to research presented by Northern Illinois University President Lisa Freeman. Research additionally emphasized the importance of considering all factors of a student population when implementing the adequacy portion of the future funding model. 

Similarly, Commissioner and Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability Ralph Martire noted that, institutions have seen inadequate investment on the backend nearly always result in inadequate outcomes on the front end in terms of student success and graduation rates. Commissioners noted this when discussing how Illinois’ formula will need to address student needs front and center once proposed. 

Next Steps

The group meets on August 4, when they will discuss what an adequacy based formula would look like in practice . This will help them progress towards the commission’s goal of a  formula that can be presented to the state next year. 

About this Blog Series

Established in 2021 by SB815, the Commission on Equitable Public University Funding is charged with researching, modeling, and ultimately recommending specific criteria and approaches for an equity-based higher education funding model for Illinois’ public universities. Click here to learn more about the passage of SB815 and creation of the Commission. 

For more information on how you can get involved, email Sonianne Lozada, Community Engagement Manager, at slozada@partnershipfcc.org.

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As the Commission works toward its July 2023 deadline for recommending an equity-centered funding model for Illinois’ public universities, community members coming to the table to elevate the need for an adequate, equitable, and stable funding model is crucial.

Please join the next commission meeting on September 1 for the opportunity to share why this issue is so important to you. In the meantime, you can share this tweet and discuss why you believe higher education matters in Illinois on social media.