A task force for higher education’s pandemic budget challenges

A policy brief from Penn GSE lays out principles to guide state policymakers through higher education’s trying summer and beyond.

State lawmakers and public higher education officials are facing their toughest summer since the Great Recession.

Massive state budget shortfalls and lost revenue at colleges because of the COVID-19 pandemic are making for a scary budget season. Forty million Americans filed unemployment claims in May, and many will need retraining before their next job with a livable wage. 

Facade of the Graduate School of Education building in daylight.

At the same time, higher education institutions are being challenged to finally make overdue changes to better serve those who have traditionally been left out and left behind.

What’s the way forward? A new policy brief co-authored by Penn GSE higher education expert Joni Finney lays out a path.  

The authors, nationally-recognized experts on state funding of higher education, call for governors to appoint statewide task forces to provide policy leadership in shaping a long-term, coordinated, and robust strategy for higher education to address twin imperatives: broadening opportunity for those who have been excluded from higher education and propelling the nation and states to higher levels of economic prosperity.

“The stakes are too high for states to repeat the mistakes they made after the Great Recession,” Finney says. “With smart policy choices, public colleges can become the key vehicle for moving people from unemployment to reemployment, while changing practices to give students of color an equitable educational opportunity.”

Read more at Penn GSE.