McNeese State students face steep rise in tuition

By From staff reports

McNeese State University students will face a steep rise in tuition next fall, following University of Louisiana System action taken Tuesday.

The ULS Board of Supervisors approved 10 percent tuition increases for its nine member schools, including McNeese, beginning

in the fall semester.

“No one wants to raise the price for our students, but it is an unfortunate necessity at this time,” ULS President Sandra

Woodley said. “Our universities are cognizant of the need to offset those rising costs in the form of additional financial

aid and scholarships.”

McNeese’s current annual tuition is

$4,977.50, the lowest in the system, but with the tuition increase, it

would rise to $5,475.25

next year, still the lowest in the system, according to figures

released by the ULS office.

The system office said the average tuition for ULS schools will be $6,013 in the 2013-14 school year, up from $5,467 this

year but almost 20 percent less than the Southern regional average.

“We think we are a bargain,” McNeese

spokeswoman Candace Townsend said. Nonetheless, she added, “We don’t

want to price ourselves

out of the market.”

The increases were approved pending the

individual campuses meeting the mandates of the state Granting

Resources for Autonomy

and Diplomas, or GRAD, Act. Those mandates include meeting

graduation and retention goals. Townsend said McNeese does not

expect to encounter problems meeting the mandates. Final approval

for the tuition increases would come from the state Board

of Regents in June.

Townsend said McNeese has accelerated its efforts to retain enrollment by matching students with academic or financial needs

with available resources on campus.

Nonetheless, she said, McNeese

anticipates losing some enrollment for three principal reasons: tuition

increases; a strong

local economy and robust job market that offers young people good

jobs; and the emergence of Sowela Technical Community College

as an attractive two-year option.

“Sowela is really beginning to come into its own,” she said, offering both two-year career education and transfer programs

at lower tuition. McNeese, in turn, must try to recruit Sowela graduates to complete four-year degrees there, she said.

Townsend said McNeese is also hoping to expand options for new students through additional online courses and degrees.