BusinessEducationCollege Trustees Push to Restore Funding, Equity

College Trustees Push to Restore Funding, Equity

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Trustees of Colorado colleges and universities will hold an online event next week to discuss state funding for public higher education and how to reduce inequities in graduation rates.

Colorado has ranked near the bottom nationally in its investment in public higher education, and last year funding for public colleges and universities was cut by 58%.

Although some funding was restored with stimulus funds, critics say the cuts contributed to growing disparities in graduation rates between white students and students of color, and a lack of access to training and jobs for low-income Coloradans.

Elaine Gantz Berman, co-chair of the Colorado Trustee Network, said the discussion next week will focus on the college funding formula.

“We are going to be hosting this event to learn more about how the Colorado funding formula was designed and to what extent, if it is implemented, it will close our equity gap,” Berman explained.

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The event will take place next Tuesday beginning at 11:30 a.m.

Unlike K-12 education, the state is not required to fund public higher education, and in hard economic times funding has been cut repeatedly, last year by $493 million.

Berman pointed out restoring those funds is critical.

“If they’re not restored, the actual existence of some of the colleges and universities is in peril,” Berman contended.

On Tuesday, the Colorado Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee unanimously voted to restore funding to pre-COVID levels, but the legislation must still be finalized.

Berman noted the funding crisis in Colorado public higher education is what led to the formation of the Colorado Trustee Network, bringing members from all public college and university boards together to advocate with one voice for higher education.

“That’s our goal,” Berman remarked. “We’re not representing our individual institutions. We’re representing what’s best for the whole state and for the students in the whole state.”

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