The student body presidents of 19 Louisiana colleges and universities penned a letter that was delivered to every state legislator on Wednesday urging them to shield higher education institutions from cuts this year.

“The students of Louisiana are challenging our Senate and House of Representatives to provide real, long-term budget solutions to ensure the future of higher education,” the letter says.

The letter comes a week after the group of student leaders organized rally at the capitol that drew an estimated 2,000 students from across the state.

“The current cuts and underfunding of higher education pose a legitimate risk to students who may never be able to see the graduation stage,” the letter says.

The students said they are gravely concerned legislators will not be able to save post-secondary schools from being forced to shut down before the school year ends. It’s a scenario Gov. John Bel Edwards and higher education leaders said could happen if new revenue isn’t raised in the special session, leaving higher education on the hook for more than $200 million in mid-year cuts.

“The Legislature must also recognize that the cost of campus closures to the state is even greater than the cost to students,” the letter said. “Higher education is not a luxury. It is a necessary investment for our state.

The letter calls on legislators to prevent higher education from having to absorb even the best case scenario cut, recommended by Edwards’ office, of about $75 million.

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Thousands of students rally at capitol for higher education

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