Higher ed outcome bill advances

A plan to create a task force that would come up with ways to overhaul the state’s funding formula for colleges and universities cleared the state Senate Monday.

Senate Bill 177 sponsored by state Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, now heads over to the House Education Committee for further debate.

SB177 is part of Appel’s plan to more closely link academic performance to the amount of money institutions receive from the state.

Appel said the 21-member task force made up of higher education administrators and state business and economic development leaders will come up with plans to be put in place by the Louisiana Board of Regents, the state’s postsecondary education authority.

The measure calls for institutions to be grouped into tiers and then judged against peer schools in the south and around the country.

For instance, LSU would be grouped as a research-based flagship university similar tot he University of Alabama or the University of Georgia. Appel said he envisions a system where LSU’s funding would be contingent on meeting or exceeding the graduation and retention rates of those comparable schools.

A companion piece of legislation, Senate Bill 118, also sponsored by Appel, says that funds would flow to schools based on an updated outcomes-based funding formula crafted by the Regents.