The Tuition Task Force, created through a resolution written by state Rep. Stephen Ortego, D-Carencro, had its first meeting earlier this month. Members of the task force had the opportunity to discuss resolving tuition increases in Louisiana postsecondary education institutions including LSU.
LSU had two representatives from the University. According to the Board of Supervisors, the University’s representatives were Student Government President John Woodard and Wendy Simoneaux, the University’s chief financial officer and assistant vice president for budget and finance and comptroller.
“One thing we are lucky to have in Louisiana is TOPS,” Ortego said.
He said some students are not taking full advantage of the TOPS program, especially those who plan on attending two-year colleges.
“There are definitely some tweaks I think that need to be made to TOPS,” Ortego said.
He said in today’s global economy, almost everyone needs to have at least have a two-year degree to be competitive in the job market.
According to Ortego, the first meeting was a kind of orientation for all of the members of the task force. The task force discussed the reasons why postsecondary education tuition is increasing in Louisiana, and what kind of policy changes they can recommend to the state legislature. The meeting made “sure everyone is up to speed,” Ortego said.
In the past five years, the percentages for funding postsecondary education have flip-flopped, Ortego said. According to Ortego, five years ago, 30 percent of funding was provided by tuition and 70 percent of funding was provided from the state. Now, funding is 70 percent from tuition and 30 percent from the state.
There are 23 members on the task force and 10 of the members are students. Five of the student members are public high school students and the other five members are public postsecondary institution students.
Ortego said he is hopeful the task force has peaked the legislature’s interest in postsecondary education issues. Ortego said the Speaker of the House mentioned postsecondary education issues should be a high priority during regular session in 2014.