Universities Closer to setting their own Tuition Rates

TuitionState colleges and universities are closer to setting their own tuition-rates, without having to go to the legislature.

WBRZ’s Adrian Pittman gets answers, on how the bill might give universities and colleges stability during tough economic times, but some lawmakers say this isn’t the way to go.

For five years, funding for higher education in Louisiana has been on the chopping block.

“What we’re doing is not working – the way that we’re funding higher education is not working, the way that we’re allowing our management board to budget is not working,” says Rep. Walt Leger.

So Representative Walt Leger drafted house bill 194.  It would allow higher education management boards to raise tuition without legislature approval.

The first step in higher education I think is getting us out of the business of dealing with tuition,” Leger says.

The Board of Regents says this bill would allow colleges and universities to stay afloat when the state keeps cutting the higher education budget.

“This allows tuition to be stable and provide the support for the institutions,” says Leger, “to help students get the services they need.”

And school officials agree. “It would help us to meet a daily challenge, to providing quality education to our students, says Dr. Jim Purcell with the Board of Regents. “ State appropriations been reduced by 16 million dollars – it’s almost a million dollars a month.”

It came down to a 13 to 4 vote:  Representative John Bell Edwards is one of those who opposed the bill. “I do not see it working,” says Edwards.  “It’s just going to put more of our families and their kids in a bind trying to pay for higher education”

But the other 13 are convinced that something needs to give.

“We gotta do something different… we can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result,” says Purcell.

The bill will head to the house floor within a few days, where it needs a two-thirds vote to pass.

Courtesy Adrian Pittman, WBRZ, Baton Rouge

- May 1, 2013

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