April 17, 2024

Strengthening State Higher Education Funding: Lessons Learned From K-12

By Matthew Richmond | Carrie Hahnel | Linea Harding | Nick Lee

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Most Americans today need some education beyond high school to secure a well-paying job, and higher education is a key factor in social and economic mobility. But higher education is not accessible to all students. 

To further equalize opportunity, states must understand options for improving the way they fund higher education. America’s public K-12 system has been grappling with similar funding disparities for decades — challenges that offer important lessons for postsecondary funding. 

Bellwether’s analysis, Strengthening State Higher Education Funding: Lessons Learned From K-12, identifies insights and lessons from K-12 finance policy that may be instructive as states rework how they fund higher education.  

This report explores four topics and associated questions that are also relevant across K-12 education: 

  • Equity: How can states distribute funding to students and public IHEs with the greatest needs? 
  • Adequacy: How much funding is enough to achieve the desired outcomes? 
  • Cost Sharing: How can local governments and states share the cost of public higher education? 
  • Stability: How can public IHEs secure consistent and predictable funding? 


Additionally, our companion series, Dollars and Degrees, offers a crash course in the essentials of higher education finance for policymakers, advocates, and others interested in improving postsecondary funding.  

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