States’ Stimulus Money Is Expected to Be a Salve, Not a Panacea

CAROL’S SUMMARY: The stimulus bill President Obama signed will provide nearly $54-billion in state aid to help with the worst budget cuts proposed for public colleges. During this time, colleges will be faced with retiring professors, a greater number of adjuncts and undergraduates, many of whom need remediation for math or English. Undergraduates will need to take a greater responsibility for their initiative as learners.

Questions to consider:

1. What is the ratio of teaching faculty to research faculty?
2. What are your goals in going to college?
3. If you are at a college, how can you best support yourself with an indreased workload?


By ERIC KELDERMAN, From the Chronicle of Higher Education, February 18, 2009


The nearly $54-billion that Congress is directing to state aid for education as part of the stimulus bill President Obama signed on Tuesday may stave off the worst budget cuts proposed for public colleges. But the money is unlikely to be able to plug all of the budget holes, and some university officials worry the measure could make it easier for states to spend less on higher education in the future.

And while colleges welcome the extra money from federal coffers, they note that the money comes with some strings. The funds also will have to flow through the complex political process in the nation’s statehouses before it is appropriated to educational institutions, giving legislators and governors a greater opportunity to influence who will benefit from the money.
Close to three-quarters of the money in what the bill dubbed the “state fiscal-stabilization fund” is designated for states to funnel to public colleges and school districts, which could use the money in various ways, including to restore budget cuts, prevent layoffs, or modernize facilities (The Chronicle, February 16). The rest of the money in the bill will be given to governors to spend on high-priority needs, which could include construction money for public or private colleges, and to the secretary of education to reward performance.

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