HJR 91: Joint Subcommittee Studying Ways
the Commonwealth May Work with Private, Nonprofit Colleges to Meet Higher
August 18, 2008
The Joint Subcommittee
Studying Ways in Which the Commonwealth May Work More Closely with Virginia's
Private, Nonprofit Colleges to Meet State Higher Education Needs held
its first meeting on August 18, 2008, in Richmond. Delegate Philip A.
Hamilton was elected chair and Delegate Franklin P. Hall vice-chair.
Staff gave a brief
overview of the resolution and the charges of HJR 91. The resolution first
provides a few justifications for the subject matter of the study:
- Trends show an
increasing demand for enrollment in the Commonwealth's institutions
of higher education.
- Virginia's private
colleges have existing capacity to enroll more Virginia students and
have no financial incentive to enroll out-of-state students.
- The Commonwealth
realizes substantial savings in general fund and capital expenditures
when Virginia students enroll in a private college.
Staff also highlighted
that in accordance with Article VIII, § 11 of the Constitution of
Virginia, the Commonwealth can contract with private, nonprofit colleges
for educational services. During the two-year study, the joint subcommittee
is required to:
- Review the success
of the Tuition Assistance Grant Program and develop recommendations
to increase the effectiveness and awareness of the program among Virginia
- Evaluate current
and future higher education enrollment needs and identify ways in which
the Commonwealth can partner or enter into contracts with Virginia private
colleges to meet these needs.
- Examine the ability
of private colleges to provide the technology, equipment, and facilities
necessary to serve Virginia students.
- Review publicly
supported programs for private higher education in other states and
consider the applicability of the programs to Virginia.
- Examine the success
of private colleges in educating disadvantaged students and recommend
ways in which the Commonwealth can help private colleges continue this
important public mission.
Dr. Daniel LaVista,
Executive Director, SCHEV
Dr. LaVista, on behalf of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
(SCHEV), began with introductory remarks about Virginia's system of higher
education. As the 12th largest system in the country, it is made up of
public and private, two-year and four-year, and nonprofit and for-profit
institutions and include liberal arts, applied, and professional offerings.
Dr. LaVista also discussed some background information on Virginia's nonprofit
private institutions, including statistics on their Pell Grant recipients
vs. Pell Grant recipients at public institutions and statistics on the
population of African-American students.
Lee Andes, Assistant
Director for Financial Aid, SCHEV
Lee Andes provided the joint subcommittee with a historical overview of
the Tuition Assistance Grant program (TAG), as well as some current enrollment
information. TAG began in 1972 as an undergraduate loan program mainly
because the Constitution of Virginia restricted aid to students attending
private institutions to the form of a loan. After the Constitution was
amended to allow for grants, the program became an exclusively grant-based
program. TAG was extended to graduate students in 1984.
In order to participate
in the TAG program full-time students must be Virginia domiciles enrolled
at a participating private, accredited, nonprofit Virginia institution
and in an eligible degree program. The amount of the TAG award varies
from year to year, but pursuant to statute, it cannot exceed the annual
average appropriation per full-time student for the previous year from
the general fund for operating costs at two- and four-year public institutions.
Historically, the amount of the award has been consistent in relation
to the state tuition subsidy to public institutions and for 2007-2008
the TAG award of $3,300 amounted to 51.2% of that per student appropriation.
Finally, Mr. Andes
concluded with some advantages for the Commonwealth in supporting private
education, including the ability for private institutions to play an important
role in providing access and diverse academic options.
Tod Massa, Policy
Research and Data Warehousing Director, SCHEV
Tod Massa discussed enrollment trends and projections in Virginia's public
institutions of higher education in order for the joint subcommittee to
gain some baseline knowledge of possible future needs in enrollment. He
emphasized that although generally enrollment projections establish that
there is adequate access relative to demand projections, there still needs
to be thought given to whether a school will be the right match for a
certain student. The data that SCHEV collects is at the macro level and
does not indicate, for example, whether there are enough spots within
majors or how many students will get their first-choice school. SCHEV
does project that the number of high school graduates will peak in 2009
and that there will be modest increases in the number of students likely
to enroll in Virginia institutions through 2016. Mr. Massa also mentioned
that the ultimate goal of increasing postsecondary participation among
high school graduates cannot be achieved by the public institutions alone.
For the health of the state's economy, private institutions have an important
role as well.
President, Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia
Robert Lambeth provided the members with an overview of contributions
made by private institutions to the Commonwealth, challenges that private
institutions are currently facing, and suggestions for possible new ideas
for the joint subcommittee to consider over the next two interims. The
Council of Independent Colleges is comprised of 25 nonprofit colleges
and over 70,000 students that are equal to over 25% of the total enrollment
in Virginia's four-year institutions. Mr. Lambeth discussed the TAG program
and emphasized the efficiencies that result to the state from a student
attending a private institution—currently it costs the state $8,062
per student attending a public institution vs. $3,200 per student attending
a private institution under the TAG program. He encouraged the joint subcommittee
to consider enhancing the TAG program, which has not been amended since
the 1970s. While in 1999, the grant covered 29.3% of the tuition gap between
public and private school tuition, it now only covers about 19.9%.
The members also
heard about the variety of challenges facing private institutions including
funding deficiencies for campus safety, technology and equipment, financial
aid, capital projects, faculty salaries and health insurance. Mr. Lambeth
contends that since those items are subsidized to a certain extent at
state institutions it is becoming increasingly difficult for private institutions
to compete for faculty and students. He underscored the need for exploration
re-balancing of private and public institutions at the state level. Mr.
Lambeth suggested possible future meeting topics and offered to assist
in the work of the joint subcommittee to find the most effective balance
between private and public institutions in the
The chairman requested
staff to generate a two-year work plan. Presentations will be given on
the work plan, information on publicly supported programs in higher education
in other states, and possibly a closer look at capital support and/or
capital needs of nonprofit private institutions. The date of the next
meeting will be posted on the study website and General Assembly calendar
as soon as it is available.
The Hon. Philip
Nicole Cheuk and
Jessica Eades, DLS Staff
of Legislative Services > Legislative
Record > 2008
| Legislative Services | General