Louisiana universities seek more leeway in tuition pricing
By Phil Sletten
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana: Officials from the University of Louisiana system made the case for more flexible tuition pricing to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee late last week. The officials are seeking to make tuition for specific degrees respond to student demands, which would require giving the school administration some more autonomy.
The University of Louisiana system includes Southeastern Louisiana University, the University of New Orleans, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and serves 92,000 students. The system offers over 600 degree programs, and enrollment has increased by 14 percent since 2008.
However, the University of Louisiana system has absorbed over $200 million in lost state revenue in the past four years. The system workforce has been cut by 26 percent over roughly the same time period, and the faculty are paid less than the average compensation for Southern states. Faculty have also been leaving the system in recent years.
According to interim University of Louisiana System President Tom Layzell, the system has already sought to tailor the degree offerings to meet market needs, and the schools have made a significant push for online enrollment to decrease costs.
Layzell and others presented the legislature with a proposal that would allow the system to change tuition rates depending on the degree. Layzell highlighted the higher cost to the system of offering science degrees over a liberal arts degrees, suggesting that students seeking a science degree might pay higher tuition to offset those costs. He also suggested that degrees with higher payoffs, including business and engineering degrees, should potentially cost more as well, allowing the school to accrue more of their market value.