Giving Louisiana's colleges the ability to raise their own tuition rates would allow them to compete on a level playing field with other institutions throughout the south, the state's higher education commissioner said Tuesday. Commissioner Jim Purcell told lawmakers he hoped they would consider legislation giving up their tuition-setting powers during the next session beginning April 8. This same proposal failed during last year's session.
An in-state student attending a public four-year institution in Louisiana pays the second-lowest tuition rate in the South, above only Oklahoma, according to data from the Southern Regional Education Board.
At the same time, Purcell said $625 million has been cut from higher education since 2008, while tuition costs rose only $331 million. This gap makes it difficult for schools to maintain a high quality of education, Purcell said, and results in larger class sizes, less available and fewer staff and teachers, and fewer student programs.