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Students expected to fill gap in budget

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By Mike Hasten

BATON ROUGE — Since there won’t be a state or
federal bailout for a major loss of college funding
next year, higher education officials will look to
students to fill in much of the gap, starting with a
planned $222 million tuition hike.

The heads of the state’s college and university
systems laid out a plan Wednesday for the Board of
Regents that calls for giving them more flexibility in
handling finances.

Most of that flexibility comes in the form of the
ability to increase tuition and impose a “fiscal
stabilization surcharge” for six years until each
institution reaches the average of its peers in the
Southern Region.

Such action requires approval of management
boards, the Board of Regents and the Legislature,
which currently controls how much tuition can be

“We’re not even close to average,” said John
Lombardi, president of the LSU System, and it would
take six years to phase-in increases to reach that

Another part of the plan calls for increasing tuition
for students who take more than the base 12 hours
of classes to be considered fulltime. Under current
regulations, tuition is the same for a student taking
12 hours as one taking 20. The cost currently is
slightly higher for students taking more than 12
credit hours because of additional fees.

For example, students at UL in Lafayette pay an extra
$5 per credit hour in fees, not tuition, when they
enroll for more than 12 hours.

Because some students could not afford higher
tuition, some of the increase must go into a fund for
need-based awards, Lombardi said.

Higher education and other state agencies were told
earlier this year to prepare budgets that
“experiment” with cutting 32 percent of state

Lombardi said Gov. Bobby Jindal isn’t making any
promises but he said he did not want to impose
such a “catastrophic” cut on higher education.

If all of the increases are approved, the tuition
increase would range from $463 a year for
Louisiana Community and Technical College System
students to $1,555 a year for LSU students. LSU has
the highest tuition in the state.

The maneuvering would shrink a possible $438
million cut to $107 million in the new fiscal year
that begins July 1.

About $60 million of the proposed $222 million
tuition hikes are now being imposed as colleges
and universities were given permission to hike costs
as much as 5 percent to help close the regional gap
and another 5 percent by implementing new
graduation, retention and completion requirements
in the GRAD Act passed by the Legislature this year.

The system heads agreed that the state-funded
Tuition Opportunity Program for Students
scholarships cannot cover the increased tuition
because that would increase state costs.

“It would defeat the purpose,” Lombardi said.

Regent Vick Stelly of Lafayette Charles asked “how do
you balance this with the pledge of ‘no new taxes’?”

“It’s not a tax imposed on everybody that you can’t
escape,” Lombardi said. “It’s not revenue to the state.
It’s a fee that students choose whether to pay.”

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Written by demon53

December 2, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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