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    Education has been high on Michigan's agenda for years and with the job market demanding higher educated employees, this has created more competitiveness in the job market, affecting all ages and areas for careers. Over the last two decades, Michigan has implemented several initiatives for funding higher education. The Student Equity Plan proposed by Senator Bill Sederberg in the late 1980's was the first plan based on undergraduate instructional cost. Governor Engler established the "tier system" in the 2000's and in 2006, the Republican Party moved away from Engler's tier system and replaced it with the performance funding model, which is Michigan's current appropriating model. 

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    Michigan's current funding formula is based on the "degree Completion-Based University Performance Funding formula." Governor Rick Snyder recommended that $36.2 million be added to the FY13 funds and distributed through four equal components based on a "three year average growth of undergraduate degree completions, three year average number of undergraduates receiving Pell Grants, three year average degree completions in critical skills area (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health fields) and tuition restraint. These factors have Michigan's colleges competing against each other, giving the college's incentive to raise tuition to make up for money lost to other schools.

    Comparing full time equivalent (FTE) students, the price of each student, and enrollment, with all states, Michigan is one of the lowest states in appropriations and enrollment. Comparing the current funding formula in Michigan to Ohio's performance funding formula, there is a difference in metrics as to how colleges gain funding from the state. For instance, Ohio gives their public universities incentives to enroll "at risk students" - students coming from lower SES areas - and reward based on course and degree completion. Each degree is weighted differently, for example, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) degrees completed will receive more money from the state than a Political Science degree. Ohio also includes a reward to bring in out of state students and keep them there for graduate school, whereas Michigan rewards on degree completion and does not reward graduate programs or even look at rewarding for at risk students. Allocation of money within a similar performance funding formula may make a difference in public universities receiving needed money while providing an even playing field.

    A suggested model for Michigan's appropriation for higher education is a model similar to Ohio's. The metrics used to push Ohio's colleges to receive money from the state are very reasonable. This model helps improve graduation rates of quality students within the four years it should take a student to graduate, and more importantly, make the education affordable. Another significant piece in Ohio's funding model is their "stop-loss" provision that caps the amount of money a university can lose the following year to 1% from the previous year funds. Taking some of the guidelines Ohio uses to fund their schools and implementing them in Michigan may be beneficial.

    Looking to the future, Michigan might want to consider changing the funding formula for their 15 public universities and community colleges in the state. The current appropriations formula not only limits newer colleges from rising in prestige, but also limits the education of their student population. If a higher education is needed to qualify for a position at a job, why make it more difficult for the student to receive that education.

    Sources:

    "Higher Education Appropriate Report 2013," Accessed: 18 February, 2013. http://www.house.mi.gov/hfa/PDFs/HigherEdAppropsReport2013.pdf

    "Recommendations of the Ohio Higher Education Funding Commission," Accessed: 19 February, 2013. https://www.ohiohighered.org/site /ohiohighered.org/files/upl ads/financial/ssi/Ohio%20Higher%20Education%20Funding%20Commission%20-%20Report.pdf

    Memorandum:Kyle I. Jen, Deputy Director. House Fiscal Agency, 21 February 2012. http://www.house.mi.gov/hfa/PDFs/university%20funding%20policy%20memo%20feb12i.pdf

    "SHEF-State Higher Education Finance FY11," accessed: 20 February, 2013. http://www.sheeo.org/resources/publications/shef-%E2%80%94-state-higher-education-finance-fy11

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    The Michigan Policy Network is a student-led public education and research program to report and organize news and information about the political process surrounding Michigan state policy issues. It is run out of the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, with participation by students from the College of Social Science, the College of Communication, and James Madison College. 

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    Andy Chou and Andrew Revard are Education Policy Correspondents for the Michigan Policy Network. Andy is a first-year student in Economics at Michigan State University. Andrew is a senior in Political Science at MSU.