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7 May 2008




Higher Education Partnership

P.O. Box 761, Montgomery, AL 36101



Gordon Stone, Executive Director - Higher Education Partnership

Phone: 334/220-2161   Fax: 334/832-9995



Montgomery, Alabama- May 6, 2008 – 


Advocating for an Added $25 Million and Equitable Support


The Higher Education Partnership is completely supportive of Pre-K through Ph. D. education. From Higher Education Day until now, the university community has communicated a message calling for equity. It has consistently been the university position that a decrease of 10 percent or more (as has been proposed) for the universities compared to a 3 percent decrease for K-12 is not equitable. The Partnership has not called for a reduction in K-12 funding to add dollars to higher ed. Instead, the Partnership has advocated that there is a need for the universities and their vitally important services to be funded at an improved level. This continues to be the advocacy position of the Partnership. The Partnership continues to call for the Alabama Senate to provide an extra $25 million above the House’s appropriation. 


Universities are constantly attacked by individuals claiming that they have a high appropriation per student (and/or per capita). This is not accurate. As the voice of the collective university community, the Partnership recognizes that faculty, staff and students TOO must tell their story. The university community must let the legislative leadership know that four-year institutions also have real needs and serious issues. Therefore, the Partnership is presenting these key points prepared by Dr. Ira Harvey, education finance consultant.


HIGHER EDUCATION is underfunded in per student analysis and K-12 scores well!


1.  K-12 Receives significant Capital Outlay Dollars: Higher Education receives only ETF funding from the state for general operations and receives funding for capital outlay only through periodic APSCA Bond issues.  K-12, by comparison, annually receives ETF funding for general operations and, in addition, an annual appropriation from the Public School Fund (funded by a statewide 3.0 mill ad valorem tax) dedicated to capital outlay.  In addition, K-12 also participates in the periodic APSCA Bond issues.  Since this program began for K-12 in FY 1996 through 2008, K-12 has received over $1.2 billion in capital outlay.


2.  Higher Education has auxiliary services that the state needs: When reviewing the budgets for higher education, a first glance may show a higher per student funding level; but many items should not be counted as per student items.  Hospitals receive ETF funding. However, they are an auxiliary enterprise. In higher education, the legislature includes funding for efforts in Research and Public Service.  This was obvious when these functions were accounted for in separate line items.  Many of these functions have statutory authorization.  For example, the services provided by Agricultural Experiment Stations and the Cooperative Extensions Services should not be included in any calculation of state – ETF – funding per student for educational operations.  In fact, specialized state funds should be removed for consideration and only funds for general operations included.


3.  Higher Education is responsible for providing educational services and operational expenditures to support a campus serving students 24 hours a day.  Most universities have residential campuses and have to provide certain services 24 hours a day (examples are security, communications, and utilities).  K-12 is required by law only to provide for instruction for a minimum of six hours per day.  If cost comparisons are to be made, a review of the costs per student at K-12 residential sites such as the Alabama High School of Math and Science, and the Alabama High School for the Arts may more truly indicate costs of a residential campus.


4.  Calculating a Higher Education Expenditure per student must avoid using funds allocated to non-student activities. Using the LFO spreadsheet amount for Higher Education is highly misleading because of the large number of line items not directly related to the number of students identified.  For example, Adult Basic Education, workforce development, Prison Education, Small Business Networks, the Fire College, and the Alabama Industrial Development and Training Program do not serve counted college students.   Also, Veterans Education benefits could be considered in this category.  In addition, students in private higher education are not counted and they are funded both by direct appropriations and by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.    The K-12 share, according to the LFO spreadsheet, generally only attributed direct line items to K-12 schools and the SDE.  Higher Education is attributed many lines items in the LFO spreadsheet not directly or indirectly appropriated to college campuses.


5. Without local funding, K-12 scores well in per student funding from the state. The local governments in many of the K-12 school systems have a low level of financial support. Given this fact, the cost per student is heavily weighted toward the state’s contribution. Alabama’s state contributions per student in K-12 are higher by percentage than many of the peer states.   

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