BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - LSU's president and chancellor is painting a disastrous picture of what could happen to higher education in the state, if some possible budget cuts are made during this legislative session.
F. King Alexander spoke at Monday's Press Club.
He says right now, the budget for higher education is one billion dollars, minus $250,000,000 for the TOPS program, he says the Southern system, LCTCS, UL and LSU system are operating on about $750 million.
Governor Bobby Jindal has said colleges and universities are facing $600 million in possible reductions, to help with a $1.6 billion shortage in next years state budget.
"This budget reduction is so large, we'd have to furlough everybody for the entire year," Alexander said about LSU. "If this cut goes through as is, you will have 2,000 less classes next year to choose from. Retention rate slows, graduation rate slows down, you many not have courses to sign up for."
Last year, Alexander says, LSU reached a 70 percent graduation rate and saw it's largest female graduation class, largest African-American graduation class and Latino graduation class.
He says the entire higher education system is facing about an 82 percent budget reduction.
"That's the largest single budget reduction in the history of American higher education, since we started measuring in 1963," said Alexander.
The LSU leader has been the most vocal about the cuts, speaking to groups of students and others from Baton Rouge to Acadiana about what could happen. He says students across the state need to get vocal and speak with their legislators, telling them their education matters.
Right now, Alexander says they receive 13 percent of their funding from the state. If the budget cuts pass, he says they would only get 2.9 percent
"What will happen to Grambling, Nicholl's State, LCTCS? Our regional campuses?"
LSU's main campus collects $110 million from the state, but if cuts are made that number could drop to 30 million. For perspective, Alexander says, they generate $120 million in athletic revenue.
He says the state spends seven times more to incarcerate someone than they do to educate them.
The problem, he says, is a revenue issue.
"We can always be more efficient as a university, we can just close."
Alexander says LSU is reducing what it can, but in his opinion, the state needs to realize its assets are not in bringing five or six new companies here, It's investing in the people, particularly the minds of the next generation to improve the state's future.