The state Senate has agreed to a plan to let colleges and universities set their own tuition rates and fees.
The proposal, Senate Bill 155, won overwhelming support in the chamber Monday following a brief discussion and now heads to the House for consideration.
The measure, which would require a vote of the people for final passage, leans heavily on a proposal to rein in the cost of the state’s Taylor Opportunity Program for Students by eliminating automatic increases in awards when tuition goes up.
Leaders have said that they won’t back the tuition-setting proposal without approval of the legislation impacting tops.
Senate Finance Chair Jack Donahue, a Mandeville Republican and sponsor of both bills, said the tuition authority legislation, if approved, wouldn’t automatically translate to higher rates for Louisiana college students. “I don’t think we’re going to see much increase from where we are,” he said.
But he noted that Louisiana is one of only two states that gives its Legislature tuition-setting authority, and it requires a two-thirds approval from each chamber.
Donahue said the change would give colleges more direct control over their finances.
The lack of tuition autonomy issue was one noted in LSU’s recent credit rating downgrade.
Donahue also said it could usher in more market-based or cost-based tuition rates that would benefit schools.
“Should an engineering student pay the same tuition as an education student?” he wondered aloud from the Senate floor.
The Senate vote on SB 155 was 33-4.
Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.