It’s good to review occasionally the condition of Louisiana’s higher education funding, as the interest group Public Affairs Research Council did recently, especially trenchant with the ambitious master plan adopted by the Board of Regents three years ago. But to understand best policy, you have to ask the right questions.
The PAR note on financing trends observes how means of finance have changed since 2005. Back then, almost 60 percent came from the state general fund and dedications, while only about a third tuition and fees supplied. Last year, the proportions basically had shifted. Meanwhile, only in the past couple of years has financing in total dollars surpassed the previous high mark in 2008.
This doesn’t bode well for the master plan, which seeks to increase over a third the proportion of Louisianans with a college degree in 2018 by 2030, if it’s assumed more money must be thrown at the problem to achieve the goal. In its summation, PAR also repeats some of the usual talking points without proper context that seem to indict the state’s contribution, that it “struggles” with funding higher education, that its appropriations per student ranks among the lowest in the country and southern region, and that to offset the reset since 2008 tuition has gone up by about three-quarters.