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June 23, 2010 11:00 AM Cajun Cash Cow

By Daniel Luzer

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On Sunday the Louisiana State Legislature approved a bill giving public colleges and universities “greater flexibility” to raise tuition. According to an article by Jordan Blum in the Baton Rouge Advocate:

The La GRAD Act that allows colleges to increase tuition by up to 10 percent this fall won final legislative approval late Sunday by a narrow four-vote margin in the Louisiana House.
The Granting Resources and Autonomy for Diplomas Act grants colleges additional tuition authority if they agree to meet certain performance standards, such as improved graduation rates.

The act gives colleges the power to increase tuition every year if the colleges agree enter six-year performance agreements with the state. Under the performance agreements colleges would be responsible for increasing admissions standards, graduation rates, and job placement, as well as creating partnerships with high schools and reducing remediation.

Critics contend that this bill essentially amounts to tax hikes on students.

Supporters disagreed. “This is going to change Louisiana for the better,” said Republican Louisiana House Speaker Jim Tucker. “The LA GRAD Act forces positive college reforms without just throwing money at the problems.”

Good point. In fact the act provides no money at all to address the problems. This is actually a rather interesting piece of legislation; one that creates a deliberately unfunded mandate. By this act colleges have to meet performance goals set by the state but the state doesn’t have to give the colleges any money to do this. All costs, in fact, are passed directly to the students and their families.

The bill now goes to the desk of Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, a longtime supporter. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer