BATON ROUGE, La. – The Board of Regents received a favorable report on the state’s projected economic forecast during its annual budget hearing today, as well as updates on the impact of back-to-back historic funding on Louisiana’s public postsecondary institutions. Over the last two years, higher education has successfully made the case for strategic reinvestment in talent development to advance the state’s Master Plan goal of increasing education attainment.
Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne and the Louisiana Legislature’s Chief Economist Deborah Vivien shared with the Board their economic outlook for the fiscal year ahead, an important consideration as Regents prepares higher education’s budget request next month for the upcoming fiscal year.
“I can say with some confidence the state will have a surplus and one-time money available to spend next year, and the budget will be strong,” said Commissioner Dardenne. “The Governor’s priorities will continue to center around support for early childhood learning but also continued emphasis on higher education with an emphasis on the importance of what you do in terms of supporting the economy. It will be incumbent for our colleges and universities to sharpen their pencils in showing their value and how certifications and degrees translate into jobs,” Dardenne noted.
To inform that work and to complete the FY 22-23 budget process, Regents welcomed each of the four system presidents and their chief financial officers to learn more about both the impact of the recent increase in higher education funding and the campuses’ needs moving forward.
For FY22-23, higher education saw a historic reinvestment of state funding for colleges and universities, with an additional $159.2M provided for priorities designed to increase faculty pay ($31.7M), expand key higher education initiatives, including dual enrollment/universal transferability ($5.4M), and invest in workforce development in healthcare ($29.25M), broadband ($10M), and other fields ($10M). Financial support to improve affordability included more need-based financial aid for traditional students ($15M/GO Grants), as well as dollars to fund the newly established M.J. Foster Scholars Program for adult learners ($10.5M). Meanwhile, significant increases to capital outlay budgets ($137.4M) will allow campuses to upgrade existing assets while simultaneously creating spaces to support evolving education needs.
“We are grateful that the Governor and legislature have prioritized investments in talent development, faculty pay, and increased affordability here in Louisiana,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed. “However, today’s budget hearings remind us that two good years of postsecondary education funding cannot erase decades of disinvestment. To remain competitive and advance talent development will require sustained strategic support to increase education and workforce development in our state.”
While identifying unique needs for campuses across the state, the system presidents also noted shared concerns across the state in retaining top faculty and staff, the impact of the pandemic and hurricanes on student enrollment and retention, and the budget strains brought on by increasing fuel prices as well as retirement and health care costs.
Highlights from each of the four higher education system budget presentations include:
Louisiana Community & Technical College System
- Financial outlook priorities are stability and opportunity
- Average faculty pay raise of 7.8%, with an average dollar increase of $3,917
- Institutions working to drive down cost on a per-credit-hour basis
- Lack of state funding to support adult basic education and workforce training programs is most pressing fiscal policy issue
- System is committed to graduating 330,000 individuals who earn on average 150% above median income by 2030 in support of Louisiana’s Master Plan for Higher Education
Southern University System
- Student retention rate at Southern University-Baton Rouge rose by 7% due to improved customer service, enrollment growth, and increased revenue
- Average faculty pay raise of 5.5%, with an average dollar increase of $3,781
- R2 Doctoral High Research Institution designation conferred by Carnegie Foundation expected to positively impact research dollars
- Capital outlay project funding coupled with a federal HBCU loan expected to help transform the physical landscape of the SUBR campus
- Baton Rouge and Shreveport campuses, as well as the Law Center, are focused on expanding support for academic coaching, student success, mental health, and faculty development, while New Orleans is working to design new cybersecurity program in support of the Master Plan
University of Louisiana System
- Campus budgets strained due to declining enrollment, inflation, and the cost of utilities, especially natural gas
- Average faculty pay raise of 4.7%, with an average dollar increase of $3,105
- System notes difficulty recruiting and retaining faculty in the present market
- Student recruitment and retention prioritized while working to grow online programs
Louisiana State University System
- Enrolled record numbers of incoming freshmen each of the last four years and expects another record year this year
- Provided an average faculty pay raise of 4.2%, with an average dollar increase of $3,165
- Rebuilt faculty at Pennington Biomedical Research Center after loss of 1/3 of faculty to competitive institutions (14 hires)
- LSU A&M expanding recruitment, especially among historically underrepresented populations, by visiting high schools in every parish, hosting application workshops in all metro regions, creating regional school counselor advisory boards, communicating with dual enrollment students about opportunities, and offering monthly bilingual campus visit options for students and families
- Initiated work on system-wide student information system modernization as phased, multi-year project to better track student information and conduct data analysis
Regents will consider approval of the FY22-23 higher education operating budget during its regular meeting tomorrow, September 21, 2022. That action will complete the final step in the FY22-23 budget cycle. Regents’ budgetary responsibility is both constitutional and statutory and is specifically granted under Revised Statute 39:32.1, which states that budget proposals are subject to approval by both Regents and the individual management boards.
Work on the FY23-24 budget cycle is underway, with Regents expected to approve the FY23-24 higher education budget request next month for a November 1 submission to the Division of Administration.