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2008 July 16 - 12:00 am

MONEY TREE: Tuition Increases for Louisiana Colleges Get Legislative Approval

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Students at Louisiana’s public colleges and universities are on track to face higher tuition costs after a bill to allow four years of consecutive tuition increases received final passage with a unanimous vote of the House.

Under the proposal, public universities and colleges could raise tuition from 3 to 5 percent each year for four years. The increase would be based on a formula determined by the Board of Regents, which governs higher education in Louisiana. The formula looks at how individual schools stack up against peer institutions in the South.

The measure by Rep. Don Trahan, R-Lafayette, heads to Gov. Bobby Jindal, who supports it. The state’s university governing boards supported the measure, which would raise an estimated $27 million for the schools in the upcoming 2008-09 school year.

Supporters said the colleges need more tuition dollars to attract faculty, continue programs and offer a quality education. They said tuition hadn’t been raised at the universities for three years.

Opponents previously argued that many students couldn’t afford a tuition increase and that the state instead should increase its spending on colleges if the schools needed more money. But no one argued against the bill — or voted against it — in the final House vote Saturday.

To raise tuition under Trahan’s bill, the university’s governing board would have to approve the increase each year, followed by the Legislature’s joint budget committee.

The largest tuition increase would fall on students at LSU’s main campus in Baton Rouge. Tuition there could grow by $234 a year for the first year and could be as much as $1,000 a year higher by the 2011-2012 school year, the final year for increases. Current LSU tuition is $4,621 a year for full-time Louisiana residents and $12,921 for out-of-state residents.

Other first-year increases would range from $44 for students at the campuses of the Louisiana Technical College to $185 for students at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. Students at two-year community colleges could see increases from $58 to $74.

Louisiana is the only state in the nation that requires a two-thirds vote of the state Legislature for a tuition increase.  

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