Costs growing higher for LSU students

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BATON ROUGE — Louisiana State University is boosting charges on students at its main campus by 5 percent in the next school year, to raise $14 million for pay raises and other expenses, under a plan approved Thursday.

The fee hike — backed by the LSU System’s governing board with little discussion and no objections — comes as higher education escaped state budget cuts for the first time in nearly a decade in the just-ended legislative session.

All students at the Baton Rouge campus will pay $270 more per semester for the 2017-18 school year. And those who receive free tuition from the state’s TOPS program won’t be immune. TOPS doesn’t cover the fee increase.
LSU is using authority recently approved by lawmakers.

Louisiana colleges and universities were about to lose their ability to hike fees on June 30. But lawmakers agreed to continue the authority to set and modify fees until mid-2020. Gov. John Bel Edwards announced earlier this week that he had signed the bill into law.

The LSU Board of Supervisors also agreed to bump up fees for the system’s Alexandria and Shreveport campuses, along with the veterinary school and the law school. Those fee increases total $1.2 million across the four campuses.

The new charges range from a $4 per credit hour fee increase for students at LSU-Alexandria to pay for student athletics to a $600 per semester fee increase for vet students for campus salary changes and other items, according to data provided to the system board.

During the legislative sessions, LSU System President F. King Alexander repeatedly told lawmakers in budget hearings that he’s struggled with keeping faculty pay competitive and seen professors poached by out-of-state colleges amid years of budget cuts. He said per-student spending at LSU’s main campus is 46th out of the nation’s 50 flagship universities.

Higher education leaders have said they’ve had difficulty keeping up with mandated increases in retirement and other expenses without new dollars from the state to pay for them. Other university systems also are considering fee increases for the upcoming school year. The University of Louisiana System has a fee item on its Friday board meeting agenda.

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