Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


SSTAR lab report shows ‘equity-based’ funding could increase student success

SSTAR research analyst, education policy expert discuss implications of inadequate funding on college campuses

The Student Success Through Applied Research Lab released a report in early January on how equity-based funding could work to close achievement gaps for college students from low-income or marginalized backgrounds.

The research done at SSTAR lab is funded by external organizations, according to SSTAR lab research analyst Amberly Dziesinski. The most recent report published by SSTAR lab was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Joyce Foundation, Dziesinski said.

SSTAR lab researches student success to limit barriers and improve opportunities to support students in higher education, according to the SSTAR website. For example, SSTAR has conducted research on decision-making in scholarship program development and evaluation of existing programs, Dziesinski said.


“All of our research, whether it has a more internal audience or more external audience, is just really at the core supporting student success in higher education,” Dziesinski said.

UW professor examines results of Inside Higher Ed study, provides insights

The recent SSTAR report — “Designing Higher Education Funding Models to Promote Student Success” — examines the importance of higher education funding, including the issues that arise when funding is distributed inequitably. Financial resources are necessary for higher education institutions to fund advising, classes and technology, according to Dziesinski. But when a university does not have enough funding it cannot adequately serve students, Dziesinski said.

The research from the SSTAR report suggests that universities who disproportionately fail to serve low-income students and students of color do not have access to the funding required to support students. This funding gap ultimately decreases graduation rates and creates a gap in higher education success, according to the report.

The report also examined policies that could distribute funding more equitably, Dziesinski said. The report proposed policies such as offering adequate funding institutions to serve low-income and marginalized students and involving relevant stakeholders in higher education funding decisions.

“We’re not aiming to evaluate these policies in this work,” Dziesinski said. “But we do think that they hold promise, and they could be a starting point for modifying and developing new funding policies.”

The policies proposed in the report were based on research and one-on-one conversations with policymakers, university leaders, advocacy groups and researchers to ensure they would be viable if implemented, Dziesinski said.

Funding for diversity, equality and inclusion programs has been placed at odds with other university priorities, as a bill that exchanged DEI programs for long-withheld employee pay raises was signed by Gov. Tony Evers, according to previous reporting from The Badger Herald.

In an all-campus email, Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin explained key parts of a resolution proposed to the Board of Regents by President Rothman. The resolution approved pay raises for University of Wisconsin employees, approval for a new engineering building and restoration of a $32 million budget cut. The proposed system, starting in 2025, would also guarantee admission to the top 5% of students graduating from Wisconsin high schools.

ASM moves to postpone vote on ‘Hate Speech isn’t Free’ legislation

But, the proposed system would also reduce DEI funding and reimagine about 40 DEI positions.

Ultimately, higher education and DEI funding and support from the state have been declining in recent years, according to UW assistant professor of educational policy studies Taylor Odle.

To create more equitable funding in higher education, it is important to ensure that universities have adequate funding while also designating funding required to accomplish specific aims, Odle said.

Odle said one issue with equitable funding in Wisconsin is that financial aid programs are merit-based. This means grants are given to students with a certain GPA.

Students with GPAs required for grants are more likely to attend college in the first place though, Odle said. Ultimately, merit-based funding often doesn’t attend to students who benefit from grants the most, according to Odle.

“It’s not that high achieving folks in this example, don’t need financial aid, but it’s that they’re already going to college,” Odle said. “So the goal is to get more people to go to college and give that money to people who would benefit from it the most.”

But, not all universities in Wisconsin have access to the kind of funding needed to implement programs and practices that support success for all students, Dziesinski said. Therefore, many Wisconsin students have different experiences and face different obstacles due to a lack of state funding going toward their universities, according to Dziesinski.

UW students should understand that many college students do not have access to the financial aid and advising that UW provides, Dziesinski said.

“With the financial resources that UW has, the university implements programs and practices to serve students,” Dziesinski said. “Not all campuses are in the same well-resourced position, which means that the student experience can be very different at different campuses, so building an awareness of these differences is something important for UW students.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *