Funding Hike for Louisiana Higher Education & New Workforce Incentive Fund

Baton Rouge -- Some good news for higher education in Louisiana. Governor Jindal announced a funding increase of $141.5 million for higher education institutions for the next fiscal year.

The funding hike represents a 6.66 percent increase over the budget for the current fiscal year. This funding includes a new higher education workforce incentive initiative of $40 million that will better prepare Louisiana students to compete in the new global economy.

The money in the incentive fund will be made available to state research institutions that produce nationally recognized commercial research and to state colleges and universities that partner with private industry to produce graduates with high-demand degrees and certificates, and enable them to link their coursework to industry needs and projected workforce demands.

Governor Jindal said, “Our higher education institutions have done an incredible job over the past six years instituting a number of reforms to help more of our students graduate. These results are a testament to the incredible work of our faculty and students at schools across Louisiana.

“The reforms are working, but it’s time to redouble our efforts. We are in the midst of an economic renaissance in Louisiana. Since 2008, we have announced economic development wins that are resulting in more than 80,000 new jobs and more than $50 billion in private capital investment. Because of these job wins, more people are employed than ever before in Louisiana.

The new incentive fund will be called the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund – or WISE Fund. The funds will be made available to state research institutions that produce nationally recognized commercial research and to state colleges and universities that produce graduates with 4 and 5 STAR job ready degrees.

This performance based formula rewards and incentivizes the degrees that occupational forecasting and industry have shown are the most employable and the most in demand. To receive these funds, institutions will have to partner with private industry by recruiting at least a 20 percent private match in cash or in kind, such as technology and equipment.

Each institution will present a business plan that will demonstrate how the funds will be invested to reach the number of degrees we need as a state to fill the jobs we have now and in the next few years. And every year, each institution will be held accountable for reaching their goals to produce those degrees. Using data-driven predictive modeling with actual numbers from business and industry, experts were able to figure out how to predict how many and what level of degrees needed to meet workforce demands.

Louisiana Tech President Dr. Leslie Guice released this statement: “Louisiana Tech is excited about contributing to the WISE plan and the opportunities it will create for both our graduates and our State. I believe WISE will ultimately result in opportunities for our best and brightest graduates to remain in-state and to use their skills and talents to build a stronger Louisiana for all of us.”

GSU President Dr. Frank Pogue released this statement: “This commitment from the governor is wonderful news for students and higher education in the state. Being able to plan for the next academic year and beyond with stable funding is nothing more than absolutely exciting, and the commitment to allow campuses to retain the revenue generated from student tuition is an important development. The $40 million for all of higher education provides a good opportunity for Grambling State University and others to consider ways we can connect university needs to specific state priorities and better meet student needs. This is a good day for higher education in Louisiana, its deserving students and employees.”

ULM President Dr. Nick Bruno released this statement: “I appreciate the Governor’s plan to stabilize higher education funding in the upcoming budget. I also look forward to ULM participating in the WISE Fund initiative.”

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