In response to past budget cuts, the Louisiana Board of Regents requested a $172 million increase in the state budget for public colleges.
If approved, general state funding for higher education would increase to $1.2 billion in the 2019-20 fiscal year beginning on July 1.
President Dr. John L. Crain looks forward to the budget request’s result.
“It is high time for targeted reinvestment in higher education in Louisiana, so in that regard, I think it is an appropriate request,” said Crain. “It’s not entirely clear yet how the additional funding Regents has requested would be allocated to institutions, so I am interested in learning more about that.”
Abigail Shallin, a senior general studies major, believes that the Board of Regents’ budget request needs to pass.
“It’s not just for Southeastern but for all the other schools in the University of Louisiana System,” said Shallin. “There’s all kinds of things that financially need to be fixed, physically need to be fixed about a bunch of buildings, and even when it comes to things as students getting money back, this goes back to scholarships, financial aid, all kinds of programs that students use and take advantage of.”
Across the state, students experienced reductions in higher education funding. According to the Louisiana Board of Regents, from the 2008-09 year to 2016, tuition and fees at four-year institutions increased by $3,646 while state funding decreased by 44 percent.
Devaughn Hendrix, a sophomore computer science major, described Louisiana’s financial state as “taxing on students.”
The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce showed in its “Recovery” state report that 56 percent of jobs in Louisiana by 2020 will require a postsecondary education.
Though Shallin described the university as her “home away from home for the past five years,” financial situations made her college process more difficult.
“I would gladly repeat my education process here, but each year, there has been an increase, and there has been noticeable things such as financial aid getting taken away,” said Shallin.
One such financial challenge for Shallin was losing a scholarship.
“They took it away because they said they can’t afford to do it for us anymore, so it’s kind of complicated, and it’s sad,” said Shallin. “It’s sad that students are having to pay more and more for this education that we need and that we want, and it’s not really taking us anywhere. We’re not getting the benefit out of it.”
If the governor approves the budget request, Shallin wants the money to fund school repairs and parking.
“There’s a lot of things that need to be fixed such as potholes, more parking,” said Shallin. “There’s a lot of times where they shut down parking and just don’t tell students ahead of time, and so if you’re going to shut this down, you need to create more parking. I’m hoping, just as I know a lot of students are, that over where ZT used to be, that they’re going to be building a second parking garage. I know that’s been a thought of a lot of students that they like.”
Hendrix shared how he would like the money to be used.
Hendrix said, “Specifically, I would like it to open up new majors because I’ve heard lately that they’re trying to get a theatre degree opened up for school because they have a minor for it, but they never have a major. I would like them to use it to open up more possibilities for the students.”