05wiley-600 (WashingtonPost)- Over the past five years, states have been overhauling how they fund public colleges and universities, tying revenue to student performance instead of enrollment. The goal is to motivate schools to improve the education they provide to students. But in reality, performance-based funding has undermined some colleges’ ability to do just that. These policies have limited higher-education options for low-income, first-generation and other types of at-risk college students. The consequences have been particularly severe among historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), threatening their founding principle to provide higher learning for all types of students.

Without thoughtful planning, these policies will continue to erode HBCU’s ability to educate those young people who benefit most from college degrees.

Performance-based funding policies, like the Louisiana Grad Act, require that colleges meet certain goals in order to increase their tuition rates or receive more state funding. Some states track how quickly students gain credit hours or the percentage who receive a degree. Others judge schools based on how many graduates are employed a year later and their average wages. These are laudable goals, but to meet them, some schools have had to institute significant new restrictions on their admissions, including setting minimum ACT or SAT requirements. Some state governing boards,such as the Louisiana Board of Regents, have effectively eliminated remedial classes on college campuses.

The colleges themselves are suffering financially, too. Most states have not restored funding to their colleges and universities at pre-recession levels. Fourteen HBCUs are receiving less revenue now than they received more than 10 years ago.

Table 1: The 10 HBCUs that experienced the greatest loss of state revenues (not adjusted for inflation) when comparing 2003 to 2013
Institution Name Net loss
South Carolina State University (SC) -$12,979,170 (-89%)
Southern University and A & M College (LA) -$15,171,103 (-43%)
Southern University at New Orleans (LA) -$4,009,163 (-41%)
Grambling State University (LA) -$6,089,011 (-33%)
Bluefield State College (WV) -$1,477,278 (-22%)
Albany State University (GA) -$3,446,828 (-20%)
Savannah State University (GA) -$3,108,823 (-19%)
West Virginia State University (WV) -$1,868,963 (-15%)
Fort Valley State University (GA) -$2,554,231 (-13%)
Tennessee State University (TN) -$2,254,956 (-6%)

Source: WHIHBCU Data Dash