Last Modified: Friday, August 03, 2012 6:10 PM
Louisiana community colleges are a vital part of the post-secondary school options for young people just out of high school, as well as older people who want to enhance their education or change careers.
Joe May, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, recently testified before Congress about the options offered for students, either to advance to a four-year institution or learn a good technical skill.
He was among four guest speakers invited to speak to the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training to discuss “Keeping College Within Reach: Exploring State Efforts to Curb Costs.”
May told the subcommittee the enrollment of Louisiana’s two-year schools has grown to 111,000 students — up from 71,000 in 2006 — as the state placed more emphasis on community colleges even while state funding for two-year schools is down 37 percent in four years.
“While the changing funding model creates great challenges,” May said, “I believed it is in times like this that community and technical colleges shine.”
May said he is concerned budget cuts may continue later this year, especially in light of a remaining hole from federal Medicaid matching dollars recently cut by Congress.
The loss of those funds could leave colleges more vulnerable going forward, he said.
Nationally, annual tuition and fees at public universities have increased 72 percent since 2001, said subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx, R-N.C.
May said policies are in place to help Louisiana community college students graduate more quickly, transfer to universities more efficiently and access more financial aid, despite the increased tuition levels.
He noted that online programs are another source of efficiency offered to students. May said the average Louisiana student in online programs is eight years out of high school and taking classes while balancing a family and a job.
The question is, “How do we get more people in the door, recognizing the funding constraints?” May said.
He said that consolidating offices and services has saved his system about $30 million.
Anyone interested in post-secondary
education should be supportive of Louisiana’s Community and Technical
College System and
our local institution, Sowela Technical Community College. It is a
big part of the formula for success for both students and
our whole state. This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney,
Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.