4 Year vs 2 Year Funding
Not all schools are treated equally in Louisiana. At the center of many heated debates taking place over the last few weeks, the growing gap in funding between the two-year and four-year colleges have brought already tightening education budgets to their absolute limit. What solution can be found before the state of education suffers?
Four-year school’s enrollment has seen a marked decline over the past several years while two-year institutions have recently experienced a boom in attendance, but why are the four-years being prioritized? While the state continues to shunt funding away from the successful two-year colleges to keep the larger schools above water, the demand for additional money to meet the rise of student populations go unmet. “We can’t go forward this way,” Louisiana Community and Technical College System President Monte Sullivan stated. “It has to be addressed.”
After a recent study by the LCTCS, it was determined that Louisiana’s community colleges suffered an additional $54 million blow since the 2012 fiscal year. With the state slashing the funding for all higher education a staggering 43.2 percent over the past five years, how much more can the two-year schools hold out with their student population growing exponentially? Louisiana’s Board of Regents’ “stop loss” method, initially devised to prevent schools from losing more money by evenly distributing funding across all institutions, wasn’t designed to accommodate growth. With their current spending model created to keep funding stable across all schools, money is not getting where it is needed most.
“We can’t be in a perpetual stop loss,” Sullivan says. “We are placing a priority on keeping doors open at institutions, as opposed to serving students.” As the education budget has been put through legislation twice, both times being subsequently slashed, Monte Sullivan is fighting an uphill battle. With no university in Louisiana receiving 100 percent of what it needs to operate, colleges must attempt to function on a shoestring budget of nearly half. While funds are bled from Louisiana’s higher education, the state would need to spend upwards of $400 million to get all schools up to 100 percent funding again.