- Louisiana leads the nation in cuts to higher education spending since the start of the Great Recession, with its state universities getting 55% less than they did before the economy crashed, and community and vocational colleges getting about half as much as they did before outgoing Gov. Bobby Jindal took office eight years ago.
- In a detailed piece about the state of higher education in Louisiana, The Advocate reports tougher admissions standards and higher tuition costs at the state’s four-year college is pushing more prospective students to two-year schools, causing a fall in enrollment at the four-year colleges that is making the state cuts even harder to handle.
- State scholarships for students are proportional to tuition, which means investment in this program has gone up — yet the benefits disproportionately go to wealthier, white students.
Jindal came to power with a promise he would not raise taxes — a promise he remained committed to even after he significantly reduced the amount of revenue the state was bringing in through tax cuts. Like many states, the vast majority of spending is required by law, and higher education is a large chunk of the very small discretionary budget, which means it is one of the easiest places to cut. Arizona famously cut all state funding from a handful of community colleges in a budget proposal last year. Now the state legislature is considering a pair of bills that would reverse much of the cuts to the state’s career and technical programs that would have taken effect during the 2016-17 school year.
State disinvestment has been a primary driver in rising tuition costs across the country, leading to record-setting student loan debt. Now many politicians are calling for free community college and exploring ways of limiting federal student aid to avoid an indefinite upward climb in costs. Overall, however, higher education investment has been up slightly across the states in what seems to be the continuation of a slow trend.