By MELINDA DESLATTE, Associated Press

Martin Hall, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, KPEL
Martin Hall, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, KPEL

The money will pay for faculty pay raises, expanded student services, technology upgrades and increased course offerings, according to information provided to the board. At least $500,000 will pay for additional need-based aid for students.

University spokeswoman Cami Geisman called the boosted charges "slight increases for strategic reinvestment."

"These were anticipated and justifiable when you consider that Louisiana continues to have the lowest resources per student in the South," she said in a statement.

The UL System joins the LSU and Southern University systems, which increased fees on students earlier this year. Louisiana's TOPS free college tuition program doesn't cover fees, so students and families have to pay the new costs.

Fees will grow per credit hour by $15 at McNeese State University, $18.59 at UL-Lafayette, $10 at UL-Monroe, $7 at Northwestern State University and $5.30 at Southeastern Louisiana University. According to the system, for full-time students that equals a $180 fee increase per semester at McNeese, a $223.08 increase at UL-Lafayette, a $120 increase at UL-Monroe and a $63.60 increase at Southeastern.

Grambling State University will charge a $100-per-semester technology fee. Parking fees and charges for students enrolled in education and human development courses at the University of New Orleans will grow.

Some campuses will increase charges for students taking more than a full-time course load, a $90 per-credit-hour fee hike at Louisiana Tech University for those students and a $36.85 per-credit-hour increase at UL-Monroe.

The Board of Supervisors didn't debate the fees at its Thursday meeting, though the finance committee held an earlier, separate discussion about the requests.

Campuses are estimated to receive an additional $9.3 million or more from students this spring through the fees: $500,000 at Grambling; $2.6 million at McNeese; $432,000 at Northwestern State; $1.7 million at Southeastern; $3.3 million at UL-Lafayette; $607,000 at UL-Monroe; and $152,000 at UNO. There was no estimate for the Louisiana Tech increase.

State lawmakers have complained about at increased charges across universities, saying they thought students would be spared such increases after higher education was shielded from state financing cuts in the current 2018-19 budget year.

To defend increased charges, college leaders point out campuses took deep and repeated reductions over nearly a decade, and tuition and fee hikes haven't fully offset the slashing. They say while campuses are digging out from prior cuts, they're coping with mandated increases in health care, retirement and insurance costs and competing to hold onto faculty.

Louisiana's public college systems don't have authority from lawmakers to raise tuition rates, but lawmakers gave them the ability to set and modify their fees within certain parameters until mid-2020.

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