INDIANAPOLIS – The COVID-19 pandemic has hit college and university campuses hard. The frantic transition to remote instruction, lost housing and tuition revenues, and emergency spending for added safety measures are taking a toll.

State revenues have been equally hard hit, and political and budget leaders have difficult choices in the months ahead. So far, most institutions have survived but are wary of future funding cuts and diminished sources of revenue—including tuition, donations, auxiliary enterprises such as housing, and state appropriations.

Lumina Foundation, working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, compiled a state-specific framework to help leaders meet the financial challenges facing higher education in ways that continue to build on efforts to address racial disparities in higher education among students of color.

“State leaders writing budgets during the next two years will be faced with difficult choices as state revenues decline because of the pandemic,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation.  “This report provides nonpartisan guidance for these budget decisions as they relate to talent development.”

Principles to keep in mind are:

  • Reject proportional, across-the-board cuts or investments.
  • Prioritize aiding colleges and universities that serve larger numbers of people affected by the pandemic.
  • Protect students who are Black, Hispanic, Native American, and from low-income families.
  • Commit to meeting demand for need-based financial aid.
  • Allocate money to institutions to provide necessary non-financial support for students of color, adults, and those from low-income households.
  • Require colleges and universities to help students finish degrees and short-term credentials aligned to in-demand occupational fields.
  • Tap into “rainy day” funds to address higher education budget shortfalls.
  • Encourage collaboration among colleges and universities to address pandemic challenges and help students graduate.
  • Set aside additional public money for education and training that can help boost the economy.

The framework may be found here.

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