On Tuesday, May 5, 2020, Jim Henderson, UL System President, announced that the University of Louisiana System will lower its tuition immediately to a flat-rate price of $275 a credit hour for returning adults. This tuition drop, which is nearly a 45% decrease in original price, will apply across the system’s nine schools.
The decision to reduce adult tuition was reached as part of an initiative to encourage adults who haven’t yet completed their degree(s) to return to school. It is part of the system’s “Compete Louisiana” program, which was started in 2019 in the hopes of boosting the percentage of Louisianans with a college degree to 60% by 2030.
Results of a study conducted by the University of Louisiana system showed that approximately 653,000 adults in Louisiana had achieved some college credits, but not earned a degree. Henderson relayed that tuition price was the main reason that these former students were unable to complete their degrees. With this reduced cost incentive, students are anticipated to feel encouraged to return.
Henderson said that, with the burden of paying for college shifting from state appropriations to students through tuition and fees, “we have substantially priced so many would-be college graduates out of the market. Because of price, they’re unable to get that credential that will open so many doors. It’s about taking a consumer-driven mindset and not to make a college education a commodity or a product because it’s really so much more than that… focusing on the needs of the student rather than the institution.”
Henderson went on to explain that the Compete Louisiana initiative makes business sense. While a majority of the system’s courses generally ranged from $400 to $500 per credit hour, the lowered price of tuition will not result in “a loss of revenue in any way”. This is because the number of expected students returning will produce a sufficient total revenue that will offset the discounts. In essence, the program will pay for itself and the universities will earn at least a portion of the remaining tuition they did not receive when the former students dropped out.
“They cannot come to us on a traditional model,” Henderson said. “They can’t come to us in a traditional time, our traditional place or at our traditional price. But if we can come up with a way to leverage our collective capacity, served at a lower cost than ever before, and certainly offer them a price that’s much more accessible, much more affordable, then that’s going to grow everybody from a financial perspective and from a mission perspective.”
Former students qualifying for the returning adult tuition program will have immediate access to the lowered tuition rate, including the UL System’s upcoming summer coursework. While the campuses of their system remain shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, schools are preparing plans for a return in the fall semester.
In order to qualify for the Compete Louisiana initiative and receive the lower tuition rate, students must meet three qualifications:
- Must be a Louisiana resident
- Must have earned some college credit but no degree
- Must be out of school for at least two years.
Tuition prices for regular students remain unchanged. Former students can access the program through CompeteLA.org. Schools in the UL System include: Louisiana Tech University, Grambling State University, Nicholls State University, McNeese State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Northwestern State University of Louisiana, University of New Orleans, and University of Louisiana at Monroe.
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