Higher Education budget highlights for FY15

Here are highlights of the FY15 state budget in the area of Higher Education:

  • Operating line items for public higher education institutions:  Provides a total of approximately $998 million for the operating line items for our public higher education institutions (approximately: $519 million for the University of Massachusetts (UMASS), $229.7 million for the state universities, and $249 million for the community colleges).  (The FY 2014 GAA provided approximately $934 million for these operating line items: approximately $478.89 million for UMASS, $229 million for the state universities, and $225.67 million for the community colleges.)    
  • Additional funds for the community colleges and state universities:  Provides an additional $13,172,514 for the community colleges in line item (7100-4000).  This line item, which was created in the FY 2014 GAA, allocates funds to each community college in accordance with a formula (based in part (50%) on performance) that was developed by the commissioner of higher education in consultation with the presidents of the community colleges, as required by the FY 2013 GAA (the allocation for each of the 15 community colleges is set forth in the line item; the FY 2014 GAA funding for this line item was $20 million, which was incorporated into each institution’s base for FY 2015).  It also provides an additional $8,048,776 for the state universities in a newly created line item (7066-1400) to be allocated to each of the 9 state universities to provide additional operational funds for efforts which advance the goals of the commonwealth’s vision project (the allocation for each of the state universities is set forth in the line item).  This line item also directs that the state universities in conjunction with the house and senate committees on ways and means develop a performance-based funding formula for the state universities for fiscal year 2016 ($100,000 of the funds provided in line item 7066-1400 are for this purpose).    (Note:  Also contains 2 line items under the Executive Office for Administration and Finance to help meet new collective bargaining costs at the 9 state universities and 15 community colleges (line item 1599-4440 - $5,551,224 for the state universities; and line item 1599-4441 - $1,450,643 for the community colleges)). 
  • State Scholarships/Financial Aid line item: Increases funds for the state’s scholarships/financial aid line item (7070-0065) by providing $93,607,756 in state funds for this line item (FY 2014 GAA provided $90,607,756 in state funds, with language requiring that the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority provide an additional $1 million for the program, bringing total funds available for the program in FY 2014 to $91,607,756). The department of higher education estimates that this line item helps nearly 100,000 needy Massachusetts’ students afford higher education. 
  • Funds the STEM Starter Academy Program: Level funds the STEM Starter Academy at $4,750,000 (line item 7066-0036). The STEM Starter Academy Program is a program that was initiated by the Speaker in the FY 2014 GAA that is enabling community colleges to better respond to the needs of their students who are interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math related areas, yet who lack adequate academic preparation to successfully enroll, persist and complete such programs.
  • Performance Management Set Aside Incentive Grant Program:  Includes $3,250,000  for the Performance Management Set-Aside Incentive Grant Program (line item 7066-0025; FY 2014 GAA provided $7.5 million for this line item) to enable the department of higher education to continue to provide grants to promote operational efficiencies and meet the goals of the Vision Project at our public higher education institutions, and to continue to work with these institutions to develop and implement a standard core of course offerings and numbering that are honored for common credit toward degrees and certificates across the University of Massachusetts, state universities, and community colleges.   A strong transfer system will help to ensure that credits are honored, not lost, and hence help students to actually graduate. 
  • Internship opportunities:  Continues to fund the “State Universities Internship Incentive Program”, created in the FY 2013 GAA, funding it at $1 million under the department of higher education’s administrative line item (7066-0000) (FY 2014 GAA funding was $1 million).  The program is a matching grant program ($1 in state funds for every $1 in private funds; with a cap of $1 million in state funds) for students at the 9 state universities. It is an incentive program to promote and support increased student participation in employer sponsored internships.
  • Adult college transition services:  Increases funds to $400,000 for the adult college transition services program (line item 7066-0040; FY 2014 GAA provided $250,000 for this line item). This program is focused on low-income and entry level workers and provides grants to adult basic education providers with recognized success in bridging academic gaps of underserved populations resulting in college entrance, retention, and success.    
  • Community College Workforce Training Incentive Grant Program: Level funds the community college workforce training incentive grant program (line item 7066-1221) at $1,250,000).  This program provides state matching funds ($200 state/$1,000 non-state) to leverage revenues from employers who make payments on behalf of their employees who are taking not-for-credit vocationally-oriented courses at our community colleges.  Also provides $200,000 (level funding) in this line item for the community college workforce grant advisory committee established in the FY 2013 GAA. 
  • Scholarship Program For In-Demand Professions:  Continues to fund the scholarship program for students at the University of Massachusetts, state universities, and community colleges who are enrolled in and pursuing programs designated by the board of higher education to be training programs for in-demand professions as defined by the executive office of labor and workforce development.  Funds contained in the line item are also available for a rapid response incentive program for community colleges to respond to employer workforce training needs.   $1 million is appropriated for this line item (7070-0066); the same as the FY 2014 GAA. 
  • Civic Learning Grant Program:  Establishes a new grant program (line item 7066-0070) to be administered by the department of higher education to promote civic learning at public higher education campuses, with preference to be given to grant applications that encourage collaboration with local government, business and non-profit organizations, and that provide course credit for service based learning.  Funds the program at $250,000.
  • Dual Enrollment Program:  Continues to fund the dual enrollment program (line item       7066-0019) at its FY 2014 level of $750,000.  This program makes it possible for high school students to take college courses at our public higher education institutions while still enrolled in high school.  This program provides students with the experience of college-level expectations and a head start on a college degree.  As such it is designed to increase the likelihood that students, particularly those of low income, will be ready for and will succeed in college.

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Rep. Josh S. Cutler
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