An examination of state funding policies for higher education and their effects on postsecondary enrollments

Karen D Sloan-Brown, Tennessee State University


The economic issues facing the higher education industry are becoming more relevant in a contracting national economy. Diminishing budgets for postsecondary education dictate the need for greater efficiency in the use of resources. The purpose of this study was to conduct an impact analysis of state policy or interventions to determine which financial aid policies are more effective in increasing enrollment rates in higher education for the most optimal allocation of resources. The methodology for this study was a quantitative policy evaluation, also known as an impact analysis. The participants for this study included all fifty states, both two- and four-year public colleges and universities. The research design was a combination of quasi-experimental and correlational. The results of the data revealed that a combination of need-based and merit-based aid was the most effective intervention for impacting higher education enrollment. Variables identified that impact the enrollment at public colleges and universities were the racial composition of the state and the cost of tuition at two-year institutions. Because of the lack of correlation between spending and enrollment, the researcher postulates that it isn't the amount of money that is spent, but the ratio of the funds allocated among the interventions. The allocations that are Pareto efficient have the greatest impact on enrollment. Analysis of state policies showed that the Kentucky approach has been very effective in the progression of higher education enrollment. Their combination of need-based aid and merit-based aid was very efficient. An examination into state-funded interventions, scholarships and how they are awarded will guide policymakers and educators in decision-making to achieve their goal of increasing access in America's public colleges and universities.

Subject Area

Education finance|School administration|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Karen D Sloan-Brown, "An examination of state funding policies for higher education and their effects on postsecondary enrollments" (2009). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3389371.