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Montana Starting to Fund Universities Based on Performance, More Changes Underway

Photo courtesy of SalFalko/Flickr

This week, November 20, the Montana Board of Regents will meet to discuss a variety of issues including the state’s falling university enrollment numbers. One of the main topics will be the Complete College Montana Program, which hopes to increase graduation rates.

“We need to change to a performance-based funding that can reward colleges and universities with funding based on excellence,” said Montana State Senator Taylor Brown, who has been closely tied to the Complete College Montana roll-out. “In Montana, this year, in the 2013 legislature, we gave an increase of about $15 million, of which about half of that, or about 5 percent is new money that is tied to increase performance levels at the university.”

Those performance levels target graduation rates, and the amount of time it takes students to complete their degree. One of the changes will be to encourage students to take more credits per semester.

“In Montana, I think the average is only about 12.4 credits, a full-time student is 15 credits, Brown said. “I mean, half the kids in the system need to realize that full time is 15, so we are working to increasing the credit load on the average semester, shortening the time for students to get through the system, and then reducing their costs.”

Complete College America has inspired the changes in Montana. There are many more institutional changes underway, which can be seen at completecollege.org.

Brown said that at a recent meeting, both President Royce Engstrom of the University of Montana and President Waded Cruzado of Montana State University showed support for the changes proposed by Complete College Montana.

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