A continuing tight budgetary environment in Louisiana has gotten observers to consider picking up the knife to slaughter some sacred cows. First it was the motion picture tax credit, and now perhaps the Tuition Opportunity Program for Students?
This space on several occasions has spilled the ills of the program that pays for all tuition costs at any public community or technical college, or at any public baccalaureate institution and perhaps even more in some cases, or a portion of tuition at a private baccalaureate institution, for high school graduates in the state or of families claiming residency in the state. The idea was to get presumably college-ready students to a college in the state, drawing both on those who might have left the state and those who otherwise did not have the financial means to attend college.
But because of the program’s relatively low standards and tying the award directly to tuition levels, it did not evolve into a true scholarship reward but rather an entitlement program. Among its several pernicious effects – inflating the number of marginal students who would not complete degrees going to college, providing a disincentive to achieve past a point of mediocrity in high school, providing an incentive for colleges to raise tuition and to lower standards to capture revenues without regard to quality and efficiency – in these times the fact that it self-defeats greater reliance on tuition as a way of responding to budget reductions seems to be getting the increased attention of policy-makers.