New Evidence on the Evolution and Landscape of Performance Funding for Higher Education

Kelly Ochs Rosinger, Justin Ortagus, Robert Kelchen, Alexander Cassell, Lynneah Ciera Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This study draws upon the first detailed longitudinal dataset on performance-based funding (PBF) to document the evolution and current landscape of PBF in American higher education. We show that while PBF has become increasingly common, states have experimented with adopting, abandoning, and re-adopting PBF over time. We also find a new wave of PBF adoption occurring in the 2010s following the Great Recession. However, PBF remains a relatively weak policy lever with a small share of funds at stake in most states and some states not funding PBF even when it exists in legislation. Equity considerations vary in the student groups they include and less than half of two-year and three-quarters of four-year PBF systems include race when allocating performance funds. Our findings complicate some common characterizations of PBF and offer new insight for researchers examining how PBF policy design shapes student and institutional outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-768
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Higher Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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