LSU Board of Supervisors on track to increase fees for students, less than a day after TOPS awards cut _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- LSU President F. King Alexander, ctr, talking with Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, right, w Jason Droddy, left, LSU Exec Director of Policy & External Affairs after the Senate was shown a proposed compromise in sp ORG XMIT: BAT1606231733286883

Any way you slice it, the cost of going to Louisiana’s flagship university is going up.

On Friday, the LSU Board of Supervisors approved fee increases for the fall that will cost students an extra $354 per year, raising an additional $9.6 million for the university.

The measure was heard less than 12 hours after the Louisiana Legislature approved a state budget that slashed the popular state scholarship program TOPS by 30 percent for the first time in its history. It’s expected to cost LSU’s TOPS students, who otherwise would have paid no tuition, $2,100 in the coming school year in tuition alone.

Fees have never been covered by the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, which last year reached more than 51,000 students.

Typically, colleges and universities must have fee hikes approved by the Legislature. But they were granted fee autonomy for two years last year.

Five percent of the revenue generated by the fees must be designated for financial aid for low-income students, according to the law.

Students will see increases in nebulously named fees like the “student excellence fee” and the “orientation fee.”

The dollars will be used for faculty, counseling, advisers, tutoring and increasing campus security.

The Legislature cut TOPS but fully funded higher education institutions at the previous year’s level. But LSU President F. King Alexander has noted that the standstill budget does not account for their increasing mandated costs like the growing obligation for employee pensions.

“We have fixed-cost growth that grows 3 to 4 percent a year,” he said. “The (state) budget doesn’t give us any new resources. It gets us as close to our current budget as possible, but we still have lots of needs after nine years of cuts.”

The board also approved fee increases for LSU at Alexandria, which will increase its fees for students up to $288 per year, yielding $737,000. LSU at Eunice could increase its fees $386 per year, yielding $737,000. And LSU in Shreveport could increase its fees $250 per year, yielding $1 million.

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