Can federal intervention impact college affordability? An assessment of federal maintenance of effort legislation at American public regional universities
The finance of public higher education in America is, of course, a joint responsibility that falls between the state, federal government and individual students (Thelin, 2013). Sadly, at a time when the nation appears poised to commit itself to significantly expand the percentage of its adult population with degrees and certificates, state funding cuts challenge public access institutions as never before. Recent reports strongly suggest that AASCU institutions are encountering funding issues that are more severe than their larger public flagship university counterparts. This study used a modified version of the Carnegie Classification that provide additional information into the AASCU institutions that may prove more relevant to how they have been impacted by federal intervention since the recent recession. This study examined reported data from multiple sources relevant to the intended output. The primary data instruments were the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the National Center for Educational Statistics, the State Higher Education Finance Report and the Delta Cost Project. For geographic classification, the study utilized the 2010 Basic Classification of publicly controlled Master's Colleges and Universities published by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as initially modified by Kinkead (2009) and later by Katsinas. To assess economic periods before, during, and after recessions, the definitions of recession from the non-partisan National Bureau of Economic Research were used. In order to compare the current economic situation of higher education, the current economic situation of the country was taken into consideration. The analysis of state investment and tuition cost before, during, and after the recession could potentially reflect the relationship between these two key revenue sources and the possible impact, if any of Maintenance of Effort legislation.