× Close


Virginia Cost and Funding Study


NCHEMS was selected to help the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) conduct a study to redesign the funding policies in use for recommending appropriations for Virginia’s public institutions to the legislature.

Topics Challenges Approach Impacts Resources


As part of the study required by the legislature, NCHEMS gathered information about other states’ funding approaches, analyzed data for trends in revenues and expenditures among Virginia institutions and benchmarked against comparison institutions, investigated opportunities to drive improvements in efficiency and effectiveness, engaged stakeholders, developed a set of design and implementation principles, and developed a model for examining how various values assigned to those design features will impact results.


The cost and funding study was prompted by the need for a more rational approach to making decisions about how to invest public resources in postsecondary education and to better link those investments to strategic goals. Virginia has long relied on a base-plus funding model that has proven to be inadequate in helping legislators (and SCHEV itself) use high-quality data and information to weigh appeals for new funding from the wide variety of public higher education institutions in the state. In addition, Virginia is a state with a highly decentralized structure for postsecondary education featuring institutions with unique characteristics as well as several with significant national reputations. A major focus of this effort was to ensure that stakeholders were able to meaningfully contribute to each of the deliverables required and especially the design of the funding model to be recommended.


NCHEMS worked closely with SCHEV to ensure that communications about the project to key stakeholders are purposeful and, frequent. An important component of that effort was to develop a set of principles to help guide decisions on the eventual funding model design. The project was informed by good policies and practices in use in other states, by research, and findings from a national survey of state funding approaches. It also included a survey of the efforts undertaken by Virginia’s institutions to improve efficiency or effectiveness through initiatives in both administrative and academic areas. This project demanded substantial data analyses; and NCHEMS has gathered substantial data from publicly available sources and from SCHEV. These data were used to develop a tool for evaluating the impact of components of the funding model that are under consideration.


The impact is to be determined, but the goal is to use the report and the resulting recommendations to make changes in how SCHEV recommends funding levels for the state’s institutions to the legislature.


  • Cost Study Interim Report
  • The final report was submitted to the Governor and the Chairmen of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance and Appropriations Committees on July 1, 2022.