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University President Joseph Savoie speaks during the University of Louisiana at Lafayette 2017 Spring Commencement General Assembly Friday, May 12, 2017, at the Cajundome in Lafayette, La.

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK

Most of the 90,000 students who go to University of Louisiana System colleges will pay higher fees in the fall under a decision made Friday by the executive committee of the system's Board of Supervisors.

The fee hikes at seven of the system's nine universities range from $98 to $212. 

Students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette will see a $212.36 per semester increase. Nicholls State University in Thibodaux will charge $143.40 more. And the fees at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond will go up $98.73 for a semester. 

The University of New Orleans and Grambling State University are not raising their fees.

UL System President and CEO Jim Henderson said in an interview Friday that the fee increases will raise about $19 million. The money will go towards pay bumps to help keep other colleges from cherry picking UL professors and researchers as well as for other instructional needs.

At an average of 2.8 percent increase across system campuses, Henderson added that it’s the lowest fees have been raised in a decade.

“While any increase in cost is significant to students, the average increase of $108 will provide valuable services in the classroom,” Henderson said. “Higher education has evolved into a competitive enterprise.”

Louisiana Tech is increasing its fees by $136 per quarter. McNeese State University’s hike is $144.51 per semester. Northwestern State University goes up $145 per semester. And the University of Louisiana at Monroe will cost $100 more.

For the first time in years, the Legislature didn’t cut higher education budgets. Instead lawmakers kept funding for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, at the same levels as this year. For the more than 90,000 students enrolled in the nine UL System universities, the state appropriated about $211 million towards the system’s $800 million budget.

Additionally, the state budget will fully fund TOPS at $291.2 million.

“With the budget stability afforded to us by the Legislature and our governor, in addition to the full funding of TOPS, our universities were able to minimize cost increases on our students,” Henderson said.

Only about 30 percent of students at UL System universities receive TOPS. The Taylor Opportunity Program for Students scholarships pay most tuition costs, though not fees, for Louisiana high schoolers who earn at least a 2.5 grade point average on an outlined high school curriculum and score at least a 20 on the standardized ACT test and choose to attend college in the state.

The LSU Board of Supervisors raised fees on LSU schools Thursday.

Louisiana ranks last among its peers in the Southern Regional Education Board in total resources per student. Universities in Louisiana operate with $12,125 per student, while competitors in Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas provide $17,563, $17,510 and $15,370 per student respectively. “The disparity puts Louisiana universities at a disadvantage in the recruitment and retention of faculty, especially at our research institutions,” Henderson said.

Louisiana ranks seventh among its 16 peers in the SREB in total tuition and fees, and 15th in direct state support for colleges and universities on a per student basis, he said.

 

Follow Mark Ballard on Twitter, @MarkBallardCnb.