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Georgia Investigating Success-Based Funding Model

Starting in 2015, the funding allocated to Georgia’s colleges and universities could be tied to student success and graduation rates, according to a proposal currently in the works.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal recently signed off on a draft framework for the proposed concept, which would shift the current funding model from its focus on enrollment and the number of credits being taken by students to retention and completion. Currently, only 42 percent of Georgia’s adults possess a college degree or certificate.

Ohio, Indiana, South Carolina and Tennessee currently have models in place that tie public funding to outcomes, but there is some controversy over how to go about developing such a model. After all, in the past many states have not seen a marked improvement in graduation rates after switching to an incentive-based model.

However, Kristin Berhard, the governor’s education policy advisor, is confident that the new funding formula would push institutions to focus on completion as their success rates will determine how much money they earn or, on the flip-side, lose.

The funding model would account for the differences in missions between different types of institutions. As a result, two-year and technical colleges would have the number of certificates students earn and the number of students who transfer to four-year institutions included in their successful outcomes metric.

Additionally, the proposal would recognize the effort that goes into helping groups of students that historically struggle to succeed with specific incentives. These incentives would be tied to the success of low income and Pell Grant receiving students, as well as that of non-traditional adult learners.

One concern that has been raised about this focus on completion rather than enrollment is the fear over instructional quality; stopping institutions from becoming so-called “diploma mills”.

To that, Bernhard said the state would have a monitoring system in place, and further pointed out that the state’s Technical College System has promised to re-train graduates who employers feel are unprepared for work.