Apr 30, 2013 7:26 PM by Chris Welty

State Debating Higher Education Tuition Hikes

Depending what happens in the legislature, tuition could rise for thousands of students at universities across the state.

Tuesday, the House Education Committee held a hearing on a proposed bill which would allow universities to raise tuition without legislative approval.

"We're trying desperately to maintain quality and performance under very, very strenuous and challenging conditions," said UL Political Science Professor Dr. Pearson Cross.

In the last four years, higher education has felt the brunt of more than 650 million dollars in state cuts. Cross says it's unsettling as universities try to make up budget shortfalls.

"As long as the state keeps cutting money, we still keep needing money to maintain where we are. In fact, we've been falling behind."

Cross says if the bill passes, universities would have more flexibility to fill gaps in their budget. Louisiana is the only state in which 2/3 vote of the legislature is needed to raise tuition.

"If you don't have control over your revenue, you're in real trouble," said Cross.

Some students are against universities having control to raise tuition without legislative approval and say oversight is key.

"It'll make a bigger gap between those that can go to college and those who can't because of financial reasons," said UL student Hadley Fuller.

She believes if the bill passes, UL could see a positive increase in admissions.

"While we would raise tuition in tandem with each other, our tuition would still be a little lower and make it more of an option."

UL Professor Pearson Cross says if the bill passes universities would still be faced with a "catch twenty-two" because as universities raise tuition, the state would have to dish out more money for the TOPS Scholarship Program.

Tuesday, the UL Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in favor of the bill, but so far, no timetable on when the bill will go up for final approval.

Chris Welty



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