Fair Funding and the Future of Higher Education in Virginia

Blogs, Letters & Testimonials

September 8, 2022

Today, Partners for College Affordability & Public Trust and Education Reform Now released a new policy report, Fair Funding and the Future of Higher Education in Virginia, detailing how a new funding model for Virginia’s public colleges and universities can help incentivize educational and postgraduate outcomes that lead to greater upward social mobility for all students.

Weighing in on a recent study by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia – the Virginia Cost and Funding Need Study Report – the report highlights the misalignment of current state funding levels for Virginia’s public institutions of higher education with their effectiveness in driving socioeconomic mobility in the commonwealth. For example, George Mason University ranked second best in the state in a recent ranking of colleges and universities’ success in increasing economic mobility, but it receives the smallest amount of money per student of any four-year college. Virginia ranks 41st in the nation on its enrollment rate for students who are eligible for federal Pell Grants, which mainly go to students from households with incomes under $30,000.

“State investments for our public colleges and universities should promote and incentivize outcomes that are important to Virginians and create better opportunities for all students regardless of background,” said James Murphy of Education Reform Now and Stacie Gordon of Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust. “When you compare funding levels with indicators of economic mobility, it’s clear that the two are grossly misaligned. As state lawmakers invest a record $1 billion in new state funds for Virginia’s public colleges and universities, it’s more important than ever to get the funding formula right. By addressing this issue, Virginia can ensure its public institutions are once again an engine for social mobility and economic growth.”

The report coincides with a policy conference hosted by the authors in Richmond. Earlier this week, an op-ed written by the report’s authors was featured in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.