LSU could soon alter a little-known program that gives its president and members of the system Board of Supervisors the ability to grant coveted scholarships to students.
State legislators started eyeing the Board of Supervisors scholarship program after an audit last year found inconsistencies and other lapses in how the tuition-covering grants were doled out.
Under a proposal that the LSU board is slated to take up during its meeting Friday, the number of scholarships offered will be gradually scaled back — from 20 per member to 15.
In addition, a new process will be implemented to formally evaluate and keep track of applications.
LSU board members gave out 226 scholarships for the 2013-2014 school year, up nine from the year before. LSU’s scholarship report for the 2013-2014 school year showed the total valued more than $1.9 million. That’s up from $1.35 million in 2012-2013.
The audit released in June raised concerns over the board’s poor handling of applications, noting that some applicants have gone entirely overlooked. It also concluded that there were no criteria regarding academic excellence, special talent or financial need, nor did the university keep records of such qualities of recipients.
Opponents of the program have worried that the scholarships are going only to well-connected students — based more on having the right connections, rather than achievement or need.
Draft documents, expected to come up at the board meeting, show regulations would go from the three-page policy that was adopted in 2004 to a new six-page policy.
Proposed in the new regulations: Students will have to submit a personal statement to “assist board members in understanding the student’s personal circumstances, core interests, skills and values.”
All applications will be logged electronically, applicants will be notified and application documents will remain on file for five years.
Also, the board will form a scholarship review committee to review the policy and provide information on scholarships that are given out.
The Advocate analyzed data provided on the recipients in the first year of required reporting: the 2012-2013 school year. More than $431,000 worth of scholarships went to students from other states attending LSU. Each board member is allowed to give two of his 20 scholarships to out-of-state students, and out-of-state students made up the 30 highest dollar awards — the most expensive valued at $19,603 for a student at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans. The most recent report from LSU doesn’t identify students’ home states. The most expensive scholarship was valued at $23,464.00, again to attend LSUHSC in New Orleans.
The 15 supervisors who are appointed by the governor have defended the program as a way to help students with grad school and professional programs. Students who receive TOPS, the state’s generous tuition assistance program for undergrads, cannot get scholarships from LSU’s board.