Louisiana's public institutions are spending most of their state allocations on mandatory costs
- Louisiana's public institutions are facing serious financial burdens, as funding from the state is not enough to cover "mandated costs" paid back to the state for pensions, security and health benefits, among other items, writes Louisiana Budget Project.
- Across the state's 14 public universities and 15 community colleges, institutions have had to return 66 cents on every dollar out of the $811.3 million that was awarded from the government — with Nicholls State having to give back more than was granted, Southern University at Baton Rouge returning 99% of its funding, and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge giving 89% back, writes The Advocate.
- As universities scramble to cover mandated costs, education advocates have called on states to start considering that institutions having to use tuition funds to cover these expenses will take away from students' financial aid and other campus operational costs.
As other sources of funding dry up, public institutions across the nation lacking funds will have to work extensively with lawmakers to address budget concerns. Research shows states today are currently spending around $9 billion less on higher education than in 2008. After the Great Recession, states looked toward cutting education spending, as they considered money gained from tuition could help institutions cover their costs. But as a result of dwindling public awards, institutions have had to raise the price for students, with average tuition rising by 35% since 2008. And state budgets aren't getting any better — a recent report showed 33 states had revenue below their original projections, which impacted their higher education budget. States like North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming were among several that had to make significant cuts to public institution grants.
And as state budgets continue to get tighter, schools are not only struggling raise funds so that they offer financial aid packages to students, maintain buildings on campus and hire enough faculty — they are also struggling to cover the primary, mandated costs. Louisiana highlights the extreme end of limited public support, where the state's colleges and universities are actually having to pay the state back most, if not all, of the money they receive.
States like Vermont and Georgia have taken aggressive steps to merge institutions to deal with economic strain, while Louisiana officials tried to do the same in 2011, but were stopped because of political backlash. Stephen Jordan, president of Metropolitan State University of Denver, recently projected that “somewhere around 2025, there will be no funding in higher ed.” As resources continue to dwindle, finding alternative sources of revenue will be increasingly important.
- Louisiana Budget Project Starving higher education
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