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Troy seeking equity-based state funding

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Pradyot Sharma

Variety Editor

The Educational Trust Fund (ETF) bill recently passed by the state House of Representatives provided for a uniform 3.48 percent increase in non-earmarked funds for all universities in Alabama over the 2018 fiscal year.

There was no increase in funding for schools in the 2018 fiscal year, and this increase is seen as a victory for Higher Education institutes who have been collectively advocating that they receive one-third of the state education budget.

Non-earmarked funds for Troy increased from $49,053,360 in the 2018 fiscal year to $51,097,030 in the 2019 fiscal year.

According to Marcus Paramore, the director for government relations at Troy, the state of Alabama has opted to implement a uniform increase for schools instead of calculating appropriations on factors including Full Time Equivalency (FTE), which is the number of students enrolled in the school full time.

Paramore said four-year institutions have been debating over equitable funding with other higher educational institutions.

Troy has specifically been battling for this, as the increase in funds for higher education is short of what the institution’s growth rate has been.

This has created an equitable funding issue for students at Troy, which had reached a high of $62 million in ETF funding during the 2009 fiscal year before the Great Recession hit.

The ETF budget was brought to a baseline level following the Great Recession, and Troy — which had been seeing higher growth compared to other institutions before the recession — saw the greatest hit.

“It did hurt, but we are slowly but surely making it back to that point,” Paramore said. “We work every day to get us back to the fiscal year 2009 level.”

Paramore said the Legislature should change the formula that determines funding higher education in order to account for changes in the specific institutions since the formula was created.

“When the formula was created, there was a clear distinction between doctoral-granting and non-doctoral-granting schools,” Paramore said. “But Troy and many other non-doctoral-granting schools then grant doctoral degrees now.”

Paramore said the university would strategize on funding targets post-election, but the primary goal is to have funding for Troy for the FTE average of the category the school is in.

HB175 is currently being read by the Senate committee on Finance and Taxation Education. The state Senate needs to vote on the bill before it can be signed into law.

Editor’s note: The Tropolitan had erroneously reported that ETF appropriations for the University of South Alabama had increased by 15.6 percent as the calculations were made using raw numbers from the Executive Budget. The actual increase for South Alabama in Operations and maintenance ETF appropriations was 6.48 percent. This includes funding for the cancer center that was added to the Operations and Maintenance appropriations starting FY2019. Actual non-earmarked growth for the University of South Alabama was 3.48 percent.