May 22, 2023
Media Contact: Blanca Jara, Chief of Staff

Chicago, IL– Illinois is attempting to go from having no system for deciding on the amount it appropriates to each of its public universities to being the first state to do so by using an “adequacy-based” formula. On May 23, the Partnership for College Completion (PCC) releases its newest report Exploring Equitable Public Higher Education Funding Models in Illinois: Toward Adequately Funding Universities and Supporting Students, which makes a case for funding innovation that can help turn around higher education in Illinois.

Over the past 20 years, Illinois has effectively cut state funding to its public universities in half. Beyond budgetary realities and the impact of the COVID–19 pandemic, the absence of a formula by which Illinois funds its institutions is a significant roadblock that has stood in the way of legislators giving universities what they need to serve students. This has led to the worst enrollment declines of any public university system in the country and has cut off equitable access to higher education for students throughout the state. 

This report, written by higher education researchers Dr. Frank Fernandez, Dr. Xiaodan Hu, and Matt Capaldi, with support from PCC’s Senior Manager of Research and Policy, Mike Abrahamson, and Policy Analyst, Caitlin Power, dives into how adequacy can be used as the basis for a formula for funding state universities. The report shows how decades of performance-based funding formulas have failed to result in gains for students or the states that implemented them and outlines a new path for this policy area. This report seeks to define what constitutes adequate and equitable funding and makes policy recommendations to help ensure every Illinois student has equitable and affordable access to higher education. 

“We are proud to release this groundbreaking research that offers strong recommendations on how to map out adequacy when it comes to funding our state’s public colleges and universities,” PCC Executive Director Lisa Castillo Richmond said. “We hope that this report can provide guidance to support  Illinois in establishing a  funding model that is adequate, stable, and equitable to support best all of our students and the institutions that serve them.”

Researchers Dr. Fernandez and Dr. Hu, who are Professors of Higher Education at the University of Florida and Northern Illinois University, respectively, hope the report can shed light on past practices when it comes to higher education funding and serve as a stepping stone forward for Illinois as it works to establish a funding formula for public universities. 

 “I am proud to have worked with the Partnership to think about how to improve higher education funding with the goal of improving college access and success for Black, Hispanic, low-income, and rural students in Illinois,” Dr. Frank Fernandez, Assistant Professor of Higher Education at the University of Florida, said. “We hope that Illinois will use this framework to improve student opportunities and social mobility by adequately funding the state’s public colleges and universities.”

“We hope that this research can serve as a first step in Illinois recommending a funding model that will best serve students and the institutions they attend,” Dr. Xiaodan Hu, Associate Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs at Northern Illinois University, said. “I am thankful to have been part of this project and know the recommendations made are vital for decision-makers to consider moving forward.”

The Partnership for College Completion (PCC) is the only organization in Illinois focused on providing leadership for a systems-level approach to support college completion and eliminate institutional inequities in higher education outcomes. PCC is engaged in efforts to advance a funding model that revamps the approach to state support in a thoughtful, evidence-based manner.    

“I am proud of the groundbreaking work being done by PCC and our partners,” said Doug Wood, Chair of the PCC Board of Directors. “This report provides an accounting of where we have been and where we can go as a higher education system. I hope it can serve not only as a resource toward a better future for all students and institutions in Illinois but also as a blueprint for other states to do the same.”

PCC is partnering with the University of Chicago’s To&Through to launch the report at a virtual event on May 23 from 12-1. The presentation portion of the event is open to the press, followed by an off-the-record Q&A portion. Please register for the event here

For more information on the report and the Partnership for College Completion, please visit 


About the Partnership for College CompletionThe Partnership for College Completion (PCC) champions policies, practices, and systems that increase college completion and eliminate degree completion disparities for low-income, first-generation, and students of color in Illinois – particularly Black and Latinx students.