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Additional Higher Ed Funding to Support Research, STEM Efforts in Virginia

December 21, 2011

To help meet the goals of Virginia's Top Jobs Act enacted earlier this year, Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed $200 million in additional higher education funding over the next two years. A large portion of the new funds would support cancer and high-tech research, competitive research grant awards, and efforts to graduate more science, technology, engineering, mathematics and healthcare (STEM-H) majors. The Top Jobs Act outlines a plan for achieving an additional 100,000 undergraduate degrees over the next 15 years through a new higher education funding policy, targeted economic and innovation incentives, and the creation of a STEM public-private partnership. In accordance with the legislation, the state's colleges and universities completed six-year plans identifying initiatives to help meet those objectives.

Gov. McDonnell's proposed funding for the 2012-14 biennium would support some of the efforts proposed by the universities, including:

  • $20.4 million per year to help universities graduate more students, especially if those students are STEM-H majors and graduate in less time than normal;
  • $12.4 million per year to support cancer and high-tech research at higher education institutions and funding for competitive research grant awards;
  • $8.2 million per year to support other STEM-H related initiatives at entities that support higher education; and,
  • $5.1 million per year to support institution specific STEM-H, graduation and retention, and economic development initiatives consistent with the goals of the Top Jobs legislation.

The increased funds proposed by the governor also would provide additional support for base operating costs, enrollment growth and student financial aid. Gov. McDonnell's budget removes a $10 million per year planned reduction to higher education. However, colleges and universities must set aside the equivalent of 3 percent of their general fund support for educational and general operations in FY13 and 5 percent in FY14 to reallocate toward the goals of the Top Jobs legislation. Funding would be released to the schools once a plan is approved by the Secretary of Education. Within the Office of Commerce and Trade, the governor proposed $10 million over two years to fund a research consortium comprised of higher education institutions that would contract with private entities, foundations and other government sources to capture and perform research in the biosciences. The 2012-14 budget proposal is available at: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/utility/docs/2012-2014BiennialBudget_al....

Virginiastem, higher ed, r&d, state budget