Edwards proposes $19M more for higher ed  

    Gov. John Bel Edwards is asking lawmakers to spend $19 million more this year on higher education than was budgeted, to fill gaps in the TOPS college tuition program, help schools facing accreditation reviews and pay for boosted online resources for students.

    The items are included on a list of additional spending requests for the budget year ending June 30 that the Democratic governor is asking lawmakers to finance in their upcoming legislative session. The Board of Regents provided a detailed breakdown of the higher education proposals to The Associated Press today.

    The highest-price-tag item is $5.9 million for TOPS, which costs more for this school year than the $295 million lawmakers allocated for it. Lawmakers regularly fill late-year gaps in the free tuition program.

    Other dollars would pay for the LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center to recruit faculty, an expense matched with private foundation money. The LSU and Southern University AgCenters would get more cash, and LSU’s New Orleans medical school would receive more than $2 million to pay a new lease arrangement with the Louisiana Cancer Research Center.

    Under the governor’s proposal, $3 million would be steered to online resources for students, such as electronic textbooks, an initiative that Regents spokeswoman Meg Casper Sunstrom says seeks to reduce costs for students who have seen tuition and fees grow.

    Another $5 million would give cash influxes to three campuses under accreditation review—Northshore Technical Community College, Central Louisiana Technical Community College and the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s pharmacy school—amid concerns they are at risk of losing the validation standard. Read the full story.

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