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New Mexico studies financial equity among higher education institutions

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Roz Brown

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(New Mexico News Connection) New Mexico is taking a deep dive into its funding of public colleges and universities to determine if inequities need to be addressed. The Higher Education Sustainability Study will review and recommend changes to the formula used to fund higher ed.

Gerald Hoehne, director, Capital Outlay Division with the New Mexico Higher Education Department, said it will look at possible inequities among the full range of sectors - from colleges and universities to research institutions, independent community colleges and branch campuses.

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"The differences between community colleges and research institutions - those differences have come into how they're funded. So, this study gives us an opportunity to look at that in more detail," he said.

Community colleges disproportionately serve low-income students and students of color, but New Mexico is among the majority of states where two-year institutions receive thousands of dollars less in education revenue per student enrolled than four-year institutions, according to a 2020 study by the Center for American Progress.

Hoehne expected study results to be available by mid-October ahead of the 2025 legislative session, so lawmakers have insight and can make changes they feel are needed. The Legislature earmarked $187 million for higher education in 2024 - more than double last year's investment and one of the largest investments in higher education in state history. Hoene said an initiative within the study will look at how New Mexico's funding compares to other states.

"To understand if there is different ways in which other states are addressing the different types of institutions and how we potentially may be able to incorporate any changes to our process to address those differences," he continued.

The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems is conducting the equity study on behalf of the state.