06252017Headline:

Two free years of college for all…well, not for Louisiana

By Meghan Henoumont

At the State of the Union Address on Jan. 20, President Obama outlined his proposal to make two-years of community college as, “…free and universal in America as high school.” That would mean that any student enrolled at least part-time, while maintaining a minimum 2.5 GPA and making progress towards a degree would be eligible. Who doesn’t that sound great to? Why Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal of course. In an article from Jan.22 the New Orleans Advocate reported that Jindal responded to the president’s proposal by saying:

“… (Obama) created a new entitlement program at a time when our current entitlement programs are going bankrupt…So of course, now he is planning to offer two years of taxpayer-paid college. Why stop there? Why not have the government buy a car and a house for everyone? “

According to the president’s proposal, the federal government would cover 75 percent of the cost while each state would pay the reminder of the bill: 25 percent. Many states are showing their support for the education of all regardless of socioeconomic status, but as of 2014 Louisiana has already cut an estimated $459 million to higher education. The hardest hit have been Louisiana’s low-income students and public universities.

A recent report by the Center for American Progress listed Louisiana as among the states with the highest cuts to higher education. This report also shows which states had the highest increase in tuition, and Louisiana was near the top. Nola.com reported last year that, “…Tuition costs at state colleges and universities in Louisiana rose by 6.2 percent.”

Jindal stated in the Advocate’s article that his administration took a negative stance to the president’s proposal because, “We believe states are better positioned than the federal government to handle initiatives like these.” Clearly not, according to Jindal’s administration this year’s dropping oil prices will mean more cuts to the state’s higher education. The cuts will begin at the start of the new fiscal year, July 1, and are estimated between $200 and $300 million. The exact amount is not due to lawmakers until Feb. 27. Sometimes numbers speak louder than words.

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