Help UNO



1.       The Executive Committee of the UNO University Senate requests that you write a personal letter to your legislators (State Representative and State Senator) and the Governor.  Below you will find the resources to assist you in this important effort to help rally support for protecting higher education in the upcoming legislative session.  The governor will release his budget in January and the Legislature will begin meeting in late April; however, support for various legislative initiatives are already forming.  Please try to send your letters by mid-December.

2.       To find contact information for your legislators, use Find your Louisiana Legislators and put in your address and city.  In your letter use your home address and personal email address (not a UNO email address) because you want to let your legislators know you live in their district and you are not speaking as an employee of UNO.  It is best to send letters through USPS rather than email, but this depends on how you think your legislator operates.

3.       We have included three Sample letters:  Letter I, Letter II, and Letter III. Please feel free to use these; however, you should personalize at least the introductory paragraph to show your legislator that this is not simply a form letter.  Your letter will have the greatest impact if it includes your personal experiences and concerns.  You may also want to combine elements from the three letters to create your own letter.  Below you will also find statistics as well as possible solutions to the budget crisis that you can incorporate into your letter.  Some of the main points to include in your letters are:

a.       Thank them for support of the GRAD Act if they supported it.  Legislators who Supported the GRAD Act .

b.      Explain that the UNO community is committed to achieving the goals of the GRAD Act.

c.       Illustrate the importance, success and accomplishments of UNO.  Look at UNO’s positive points.

d.      Point out that UNO is already suffering from a 21% loss in state support and additional cuts will threaten core academic programs.  Refer to LSU system Enrollment Data, Budget Situation and SREB facts for additional information.

e.      Tell them that budget cuts make it harder to fulfill our educational mission, including meeting the requirements of the GRAD act.  GRAD Act is a key defense for higher education. We are mandated to improve graduation and retention rates in LA.  We cannot accomplish the goals of the GRAD ACT if we do not have sufficient resources.

f.        Remind them how good we are at one of our core missions: training Louisiana citizens to be productive members of the workforce.

g.       Urge them to look into creative solutions for preventing massive budget cuts to higher education.  Look at "Cliff" Solutions.


Outside Links:

·         Find your Louisiana Legislators

·         Governor's Office

·         Legislators who Supported the GRAD Act

·         Louisiana BOR member info

·         LSU Board of Supervisors member info

·         Louisiana's budget

·         State Treasurer

·         UNO’s Fall2010 Enrollment Information

·         SREB fact book 2009

·         SREB Fact Book Tables

·         SREB  publications



Links in Document:

·         Sample  Letter  I

·         Sample Letter II

·         Sample  Letter III

·         Sample Letter Format

·         UNO’s positive points.

·         Budget Situation

·         LSU system Enrollment Data

·         SREB facts

·         "Cliff" Solutions


Sample Letter  I:

Dear ______________,

As a constituent, I want to thank you for your service to the state of Louisiana in these very difficult times.  I know that you face some very difficult decisions about how to allocate shrinking state revenues. As a member of the UNO community and a parent of school-age children I hope will be able to attend a public university in Louisiana, I am writing to ask you to dedicate yourself and your staff to finding innovate solutions to the budget crisis and thus ending the devastating cuts to higher education. Unfortunately, higher education has had to bear the brunt of the recent cuts, resulting in a loss of 21% of state allocations.  Any further cuts will irreparably harm the economic future of our state.  There is no more urgent issue facing the state in the coming year. For without strong public universities, industry, small businesses, K-12 education, and the arts will all suffer.

UNO is vital to the growth and prosperity of the 13-parish New Orleans region, delivering an economic impact of 1 billion dollars and producing 1300 local jobs. UNO has the highest research productivity in the LSU system and the highest percentage of graduate enrollment in the state. 2000 graduates leave UNO every year, providing a skilled workforce for the metro area.  As the region's only public research university, UNO has 70,000 alumni who are credited with helping to create a stable middle class for this city. Among those alumni are 5300 educators teaching in Louisiana, most of them in New Orleans. Without UNO, many residents of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana would not have had the opportunity to improve their lives and the communities they live in.      

Last year's GRAD Act was passed by the state legislature with the hope that it would strengthen higher education in the state.  UNO is committed to reaching the retention and graduation goals it sets forth.  However, cutting resources further will make it increasingly difficult for the university to reach these goals. Louisiana as a whole ranks near the bottom for graduation rates in the South. It is no coincidence that Louisiana also ranks near the bottom in the proportion of the state budget spent on higher education (according to SREB data). The most effective retention efforts (such as early intervention, student support services, and faculty advising) require resources.  An ongoing commitment to invest in the state's future by investing in higher education is required to help UNO and other universities fulfill the promise of the GRAD Act.

Another crucial element of UNO's fiscal health is tuition revenues. Offsetting this year's 10% tuition increase were an increase of 8% in mandated costs (which ate up half of the tuition increase at UNO) and a decline in enrollment, which was due in large part to the tuition increase and growing fears that future program cuts would affect students' ability to complete their degrees. Admissions to UNO came to a near stand-still last year when proposed cuts for FY 2010-2011 were announced.  The result was a loss of 500 students this fall.

The nearly 32% cuts to higher education that have been projected for next year would cripple UNO's ability to continue its mission as an urban research university, not to mention its ability to retain and graduate its students and to attract new students who might otherwise leave the metro region or even the state to pursue higher education. Whether the students who leave New Orleans or Louisiana for college will ever return is unlikely, as employment opportunities will evaporate with the decline of strong research universities.

Given the importance of UNO to the New Orleans metro region and of higher education to the future of Louisiana, I hope that you will do everything in your power to prevent future cuts. Many solutions have been offered, such as

  • urging the governor to use his authority (RS39:75) to cut 5% across the board and even increasing his authority to 10%
  • supporting a Stabilization Fee (a temporary fee to support higher education and health care until the budget situation improves)
  • supporting some of Treasurer Kennedy's recommendations on how to cut the state budget without cutting higher education and health care
  • closing some of the state's smaller institutions in order to preserve those that have the greatest impact on the state
  • fixing the UAL/retirement problem by closing the defined benefit retirement system for new hires and/or phasing in a provision that would prevent retirees from taking benefits until they reach 65

·         supporting a measure that would allow universities to address utility costs (approximately 15% of the UNO budget pays for utilities) by selling carbon credits to convert our campuses to wind and solar power. (Utility saving would be permanent and this initiative could be used to train engineers in green technology.)


We are counting on you to take the lead in preserving UNO and higher education across the state for the future of New Orleans and Louisiana. 



Back to top



Sample Letter II:


I wish to thank you for your service to our district, and in particular, for voting for the LA GRAD Act. As a member of the UNO community, I can tell you that we at UNO are working very hard to implement the goals of the GRAD Act. The University of New Orleans is committed to raising the retention and graduation rates by tracking students and ensuring that students struggling academically are offered help and guidance. We are working with the Board of Regents and other institutions in the region to increase student success.

Meeting the challenges of the GRAD Act just became more difficult at UNO, after this latest mid-year cut of $1.6 million. And by cutting UNO and the other teaching units in the LSU-system more deeply than the other public colleges and universities, this budget reduction does not comport with the stated goals of the GRAD Act or the Board of Regents formula. As you probably know, the reason for the greater cut has to do with the existence of many non-teaching institutions (Ag Center, Pennington, Hospitals) in the LSU system, which in the original budget cut proposed by the governor were cut much more severely; the LSU system then decided to mitigate those cuts by spreading them to the teaching units, including UNO and LSU.

The University of New Orleans continues to serve the students of the metro New Orleans region, and we are fulfilling our mission as an urban research university. Last academic year, we awarded 1347 Baccalaureates, 600 Masters, and 60 PhDs. Those students, and the tens of thousands of others who graduated before 2009 and who still reside in Louisiana, are trained, educated and capable members of our workforce. UNO's research  productivity, in terms of being awarded federal research grants, is one of the highest in the state.  And the economic impact of UNO on the metro economy, a UNO Economics professor has determined, is about $1 billion.

We understand that the state budget will need to be cut for the 2011-12 year. Still, an $18 million reduction in state appropriated funds, as the UNO administration has been asked to prepare for, will be absolutely devastating, representing an additional 15% cut to our general fund budget. The tuition increase will mitigate only a small portion of that. Moreover, there are many other cost increases which have steadily grown in the past few years and will likely do so in the next few years. UNO can do nothing about mandated cost increases. This past year, the costs charged by the state to UNO for pension contributions increased by more than $2 million. Insurance costs charged by the state have also steadily increased since 2005. Beginning to fix the state pensions, for example by phasing in a minimum retirement age, could prevent future increases.

There are a number of innovative solutions for mitigating the cuts to higher education, such as a true across-the-board cut to state government, including a 3% constitutionally allowed cut to dedicated programs. The governor has for two years in a row tried to raise that to 10% (in bills that, as you know, failed), but he has never proposed taking even 3% in his budget. State Treasurer Kennedy also has a number of interesting proposals for reducing the costs of state government. All of these solutions would mean higher education and medical services do not suffer a catastrophic reduction in services, services which are vital to our state's future.

Thank you again for your service to our district and for doing all you can to preserve higher education for future generations of New Orleanians and Louisianans,

Back to top



Sample Letter III:


I thank you for your service to the state, and your support of efforts to improve the quality of public higher education in Louisiana.  As your constituent, I am writing this letter because I am confident that when addressing Louisiana's budget shortfall, and other funding issues that face higher education, that UNO and can be saved from the potential and truly Machiavellian cuts in programs, staff, faculty and quality of education that would have long lasting negative consequences for this institution and the metro area economy. 

First, let me outline the serious budget situation facing UNO.  Since FY08, UNO has suffered from a 21% decline in overall state support, which includes stimulus support.  In addition, this is the "Cliff" year, or the last year of federal stimulus funding for higher education nationwide.  In FY10-11, the state allocation to UNO was reduced and replaced by $17 million of federal stimulus funds, funds that UNO will lose when the stimulus expires.  Without action, this loss will result in a further 29% cut to UNO's state support.  Without action, the loss in stimulus funds means state support will have been allowed to shrink over 44% in four years time.  After years of budget cuts, UNO, having no "fat" left, is placed in the position of having to cut core programs and laying off experienced faculty.  Other qualified faculty will leave, and it will be difficult to attract academically qualified and talented faculty, class size will increase and course offerings will drop. The result will be fewer students educated at a lower quality institution.  Higher education statewide will suffer a similar fate.

With the appropriate investment, the coming years present a real opportunity for higher education to move more and more Louisianans into high paying jobs.  Education is the engine that powers the middle class and the work force of the future demands employees with at least a four-year degree.  The Bureau of the Census (2007) estimates that a four-year degree adds more than $25k to an individual's annual income over a high school diploma alone.  This "skills" premium is as high as $61k for professional degrees.  The Bureau of the Census also estimates that by 2016 30% of the new jobs created will require at least a four-year college degree, but only 20% of Louisiana's adults have a Bachelor's degree or higher degree.

Taxpayer support of UNO must be sufficient to help build the middle class of this state.  The Southern Regional Board of Education (SREB), which tracks educational performance and funding statistics for 16 southern states, finds our state’s investment in higher education is deficient and about to become much worse without legislative action.  Before recent cuts, this state ranks 14th in proportion of state spending on education (FY07-08 is the most recent figure), just ahead of Georgia and Florida.  Revenue per full-time equivalent student (FTE) at four-year institutions is also troubling.  In FY 08-09 southern states, on average, provided $7,575/FTE and $6,588/FTE was collected in tuition and fees at four-year institutions.  In FY08-09, Louisiana spent $7,756/FTE (6th) but collected $4,821/FTE (14th) in tuition and fees ranking it 12th overall.  Louisiana state support has declined since FY08-09 while tuition increased marginally.  As of Fall 2010, UNO charges about $4,800/FTE in tuition and fees and the state has provided UNO with $6,027/FTE (LSU system budget figure after budget cuts and most recent Board of Regents FTEs=9,607).  Given these current levels of funding, UNO ranks 14th in state support and last in revenue per student (using the most recent FY08-09 numbers).  With the loss of stimulus money, state support will be $1770/FTE lower or $4,277/FTE (i.e., 17mil / 9607=$1,770).  This change will place UNO last in state support and overall revenue per student.  Some of the low tuition problems caused by overly restrictive legislation of the past have been somewhat rectified by the GRAD Act, but state investment cannot be allowed to fall to levels only seen in West Virginia and revenue per student rivaled only by community colleges.

UNO is a responsible steward of taxpayer investment.  Now, with the tools of the GRAD Act, UNO is using every available resource to look for ways to improve degree production and thereby improve returns on Louisiana taxpayer investment.  That said, UNO is just as productive as LSU in producing degrees even though LSU has a much higher graduation rate (measured only by the six-year completion of first-year, full-time freshmen).  Despite its lack of funding, UNO's degrees produced (2007 degrees in FY09-10) per full time student is 21%, the same as LSU, even though LSU's official graduation rate is 61% and UNO's is 20%.  The number of degrees produced per full time student is a more reflective measure of degree production, especially for an urban university with many non-traditional students.  Transfer students, part-time students, and graduate students, comprising the majority of the UNO student body, are ignored by the graduation rate.  Also, LSU, under the graduation rate, will receive credit for a student that started at LSU and then transferred and graduated at UNO.

UNO serves as the backbone of the Greater New Orleans economy and its future.  The University of New Orleans has an economic impact of more than $1 billion.  UNO ranks as the most diverse campus in the state and first in the percentage of master’s and doctoral students.  In addition, UNO’s faculty is the highest performing in the state, ranking first in research awards per faculty member.  UNO’s 70,000 graduates provide much of the educated workforce needs of this area, and UNO is positioned to provide a quality education for tomorrow’s work-force.

We urge you to support solutions which will allow the public universities of Louisiana to educate and train the workforce of tomorrow.  Like other universities in our system, UNO has already lost over 21% of its state support over the last two years.  The added impact of more cuts will be particularly difficult for UNO, as it has endured many challenges far beyond most campuses in recent years.  Below is a list of proposed solutions that I hope you can support:

·         Budget Authority:  Urge the governor to use his authority to cut 5% across the board. 

·         Refinance State Debt: with the lowest Interest rate of the past 50 years, the state could potentially save millions by refinancing its debt, and changing amortization schedules, etc.

·         Fix the UAL/retirement problem:  support closing the defined benefit retirement system for new hires and/or phase in a provision that would prevent retirees from taking benefits until they reach 65.  Mandated costs are taking an increasing share of university budgets.

·         Support some of State Treasurer Kennedy’s recommendations on how to cut the state budget without cutting higher education and health care.

·         Stabilization Fee:  This would be a temporary fee, lasting 3-5 years, to support higher education and health care until the budget situation improves.

·         Tobacco tax: Support raising the state tobacco tax to support higher education.  Many states have much higher tobacco taxes than Louisiana.

·         Address utility costs: Support a measure that would sell carbon credits to convert our campuses to wind and solar power.  Utility saving is permanent and is approximately 15% of the UNO budget.

·         Eliminate per credit-hour tuition cap:  Eliminate the cap on tuition so that students pay for every credit hour taken. Currently students pay for a maximum of only 12 credit hours but may enroll in up to 19. 

·         Differential Tuition:  Allow higher tuition for higher cost degree programs.

·         Minimum Funding formula:  Create a minimum funding formula per full-time student equal to the average of similar SREB-ranked institutions.


Thank you for your support of higher education and doing all you can to preserve and promote the middle class and future of this state.



Back to top



Sample Letter Format:


Your Name

Address 1

Address 2





[Insert date- month day, year]



The Honorable [Full Name]

[Full Title]





Subject: Budget Cuts to the University of New Orleans



Dear [Representative, Senator, or Governor] [insert last name]:



Letter Body [block format, single spaced, 11 point, 2 spaces between paragraphs]





[Insert Your name]

Back to top

Positive points about UNO:


·         UNO is Louisiana's only urban research university in the state and has a vital role in serving the educational, economic, cultural and social well being of the 13-parish New Orleans metropolitan area.

·         UNO has 11,272 students and a current annual operating budget of more than $122 million.

·         UNO opened in September 1958 with a mission of bringing “public-supported higher education to Louisiana's largest urban community."

·         UNO offers 43 undergraduate degree programs, 31 masters and 11 doctoral programs in a variety of disciplines.

·         UNO is home to over 20 research centers.

·         UNO has a $1 billion economic impact on Louisiana.

·         Over 13,000 jobs created in New Orleans metro area are UNO jobs.

·         UNO awarded 1347 Bachelors, 600 Masters, 60 Doctoral degrees in the 2009-10 academic year.

·         UNO has over 70,000 alumni.

·         There are 5300 UNO educated teachers currently teaching in Louisiana.

·         UNO is the most diverse university in Louisiana.

·         UNO brings into the state $45 million in external research funding.

·         The Carnegie Foundation has classified UNO as a Research University – High Research Activity. Baylor, Auburn, Clemson are also in this category.  The only other public university in the state with this designation is ULL.

·         The only public urban research university in metro New Orleans is UNO.

·         UNO is Excellent in academics (#1 Naval architecture and marine engineering program, award winning creative writing workshop, etc.).



·         UNO is listed in Princeton Review, U.S. News and World Report and Washington Monthly Best Colleges Listing.

·         UNO ha a Top 30 Film Program as noted in ‘Film School Confidential.’

·         UNO has the #1 Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering program in U.S.

·         UNO has the largest College of Business in Louisiana.

·         UNO has an award-winning Creative Writing Workshop including the 2010 #1 National Student Playwright.

·         UNO Pre-Professional students have a 22% higher acceptance rate to medical school and an 18% higher acceptance rate to dental school than the national averages.

·         The UNO National Center for Data Assurance is certified as “National Center of Academic Excellence” by the NSA.

·         Members of the UNO Jazz Studies faculty performed on a Grammy Award-winning recording with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra.

·         UNO has 23 programs in the College of Education & Human Development that are nationally acclaimed.

·         UNO has one of the few Accounting programs with international accounting accreditation and internal audit “Center” status.


UNO is among the top-tier universities in the state—

·         UNO is Carnegie rated Research University/High.

·         UNO is the closest of the three Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Four-Year 2 institutions to achieving the highest SREB category.

       Universities in the Southeast are categorized by their SREB ranking. The rankings are based on the number of doctoral degrees granted each year and the number of doctoral programs. LSU is a SREB Four-Year 1 institution, the highest category--the only one in the state.  UNO, Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana Tech are SREB Four-Year 2 institutions.  UNO is the closest to achieving level -one SREB status.

       Level-one status takes 10 doctoral programs (in different disciplines- CIP codes) and 100 doctorates awarded.  UNO currently has 13 doctoral programs in 7 separate disciplines and 60 doctoral degrees and growing.   UNO has already prepared plans for two additional programs (in Materials Science and Medicinal Chemistry) and submitted these to the LSU system for review.  With these added programs and re-categorizing of our other programs the total could easily be brought to 11 separate codes.

·         UNO has the Highest research productivity per faculty in Louisiana

       Using the three-year average [2005-07] used by the Louisiana Board of Regents in its current calculation of its funding formula, the research productivity [federal research expenditures per faculty member] at each campus is: LSU main campus $29,426; UNO $30,967; Louisiana-Lafayette $24,773; and Louisiana Tech $11,874

·         UNO has the highest percentage of graduate enrollment among its student body of any university in the state (26%).

·         UNO produces the second highest number of doctoral degrees in the state.

       2009-10 Doctorate degrees:  LSU-BR 300, UNO 60, Louisiana-Lafayette 39, Louisiana Tech 36.

·         UNO brings in $45 Million in external research funding.

·         UNO is Home to over 20 research centers.

·         UNO has Research partnerships with NASA, USGS, US Navy and many others.

·         The NASA/UNO National Center for Advanced Manufacturing is a 7 university research consortium.

·         UNO has nationally known research programs in Nano Sciences, Coastal Restoration & Advanced Manufacturing among others.


Economic Development & Impact:

·         $1 Billion economic impact on Louisiana

·         Over 13,000 jobs created in New Orleans metro area

·         UNO Research & Technology Park

       Home to over 20 companies with over 1000 employees

·         Space & Naval Warfare Systems Command Systems Center

       Partnership has over $80 million impact and partnered with over 40 private companies

·         UNO/Northrop Grumman Maritime Technology Center of Excellence

       $40 million cooperative with 400 engineering and design employees

·         UNO/Nims Center Studios

       Studio has housed national motion picture productions including: Ray, The Runaway Jury, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and many others

·         100% placement of Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism and PhD in Economics and Finance graduates

·         5300 UNO educated teachers currently teaching in LA, most in N.O. area

·         UNO Charter School Network manages multiple schools with significant academic success

·         Center for Hazard Assessment Response & Technology has been a key resource for post Katrina rebuild information & aid

·         Longest running accredited MBA program in Caribbean

Back to top


Budget Situation:

·         UNO’s last reported operating budget for FY10-11(fiscal year 2010-2011), before the latest mid-year cut (of $1.56 mil), was $121 million.  At the start of the FY10-11 year UNO’s state general fund allocation was a bit less than $42 million (i.e., 35% of UNO’s operating budget) and UNO received $17 million in federal stimulus funds.  The total Louisiana (LA) state budget is $25.5 Billion for FY10-11.  The state faces a $1.6 billion shortfall [from the Five-Year Base-Line Budget Report (R.S. 39:171 – 175)](i.e.,  6% of the overall budget) in FY11-12. This amount includes the scheduled expiration of $291 million in federal stimulus that supported higher education.  State revenues are forecasted to grow by almost $500mill in FY11-12, but cost is forecasted to exceed revenue by the shortfall amount.

·         The “Cliff” facing higher education is the potential massive cuts faced by higher education because of the loss of federal stimulus money and the huge budget deficit facing our state.  The following table, constructed from the Board of Regents and UNO’s budgets, shows the Cliff:

Board of Regents (State) Funding and ARRA funds for UNO


Fiscal period

State Formula Appro-

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds

Annual FTE

Formula Approp. per FTE (b/d)

(State Approp. + ARRA funds) /FTE (b+c)/d


lative.  Loss in Approp (b)

Cumulative.  Loss in Approp + ARRA  (b+c)


loss in Approp + ARRA  (b+c)

Cumu-lative. loss in state+
















































































* after most recent $1.56 million mid-year cut

^ FY09-10 is the most recent figure for Board of Regents FTEs.  This number is only known at the end of each year.

** Estimate assumes same state appropriation, loss of stimulus funds and same enrollment for FTEs.

(b) does not include stimulus dollars

(d) Full time equivalent enrollment

·         UNO has already suffered a 21% cut in the last two years.  Throughout the university systems, state allocations have dropped 21% (by $307million state-wide) in the last two years.  At UNO, state plus stimulus support [column (h)] also declined 21%.  Considering state appropriations only, state support for UNO has already dropped 44% [column (g)].

·         The “Cliff” for UNO means that, without the stimulus funds to replace state budget dollars, UNO would face the full 44% cut in state support over a four year period.  The loss of stimulus funds alone is a 29% cut in single year.  Cuts are not limited to stimulus funds and could include any additional cuts to balance the state’s budget.  The Board of Regents (BOR) has requested plans from universities preparing for a 32% cut.

·         By next year, Louisiana’s lack of investment in higher education may place us near the bottom of all 16 southern states tracked by the SREB, in state support and in revenue per student.  With the removal of stimulus funds, the state will be funding UNO at $4,278 per student.  This places UNO 14th in state support and 16th (last) in revenue per FTE (according to Table 78 for FY08-09 of the Southern Regional Education Board, SREB). Of course enrollment will not be the same if budget cuts hit, because of cuts in faculty and core academic programs.

·         Only around $4 billion of the state budget is "cuttable" according to Bob Keaton at the LSU system.  The general fund is 30% of the $25.5. Billion budget.  The discretionary part of the general fund is 10% of the budget. This $2.6 billion discretionary fund is comprised of Higher education at 37%, Healthcare at 29%, and Other at 34%.  TOPS is in the “Other” category.  There are some non-discretionary parts of the general fund that are not constitutionally protected, and together these total $4 billion. A $1.6 billion cut is 39% of the budget that is cuttable.  This is probably where the Division of Administration got the 32% number for the current budget cutting exercise.

·         Analysis indicates LA is in this budget crisis because revenue was incorrectly categorized as reoccurring after Katrina.  State revenues ballooned after insurance/federal monies flowed into the state creating a temporary surplus.  These monies were incorrectly counted as reoccurring and elected officials increased the budgets of state agencies.  Many of these budget lines are constitutionally protected from cuts.  In addition, the Legislature reduced taxes after 2005 that would have made available almost $1 billion if the series of tax cuts had not been granted.  LA is returning to revenue growth consistent with pre-Katrina levels.  The repeal of the Stelly plan was the most notable tax cut.

·         The maintenance of effort provision in the federal education stimulus money has helped protect higher education from more massive cuts.  This protection ends with stimulus support ending.  This provision states that funding levels for education must be maintained at 2006 levels as a condition of accepting funds.  The state has cut in spite of this provision and filed waivers with the Department of Education.  The Department has not granted waivers, but as of yet has not forced states to comply with this provision.

·         Some of the cuts have been mitigated by raising tuition and fees.  Tuition, limited by past legislation, has increased up to 5% per year.  Through the GRAD Act, this is the first year tuition was allowed to climb 10%.  Currently full time tuition and fees runs about $4,800/yr of in-state students. Tuition and fees still lags way behind the southern average.

·         Mandated costs and UALs (unfunded accrued liabilities) are a major cost driver in LA.  These are 20% of UNO's operating budget (over $24mil for UNO).  Statewide these costs have increased 8%.  Cost increases are mainly related to the state retirement systems covering liabilities created long ago.  Half of UNO’s revenue from tuition increases in 2010-11 went to cover increases in these costs.

·         The last UNO contingency plan, ordered by the LSU system, assumed a 23% cut. The plan eliminates more than 91 faculty positions to meet budget cuts.  With the huge change in state support, a loss of enrollment is inevitable and will be a huge factor in cutting our budgets further when tuition income decreases.  This is above a 10% increase in tuition included as part of the plan.  The extent of budget cuts on UNO and surrounding metro area are unknown, but expected to be significant.

·         LSU system President Lombardi does not favor furloughs or salary cuts to address budget cuts because it would worsen salary inversion (faculty with more experience paid less than newer hires) among the faculty and therefore lead a further deterioration of employee morale.  The hiring of new employees requires employers to offer market rates.  UNO, with its long history of budget cuts, has financed new hires by not raising salaries of employees with a work history at the university.

·         President Lombardi also says that we will know in December if financial exigency needs to be declared.


Back to top

LSU system Enrollment/Graduation Data

·         From 2002-2007 the LSU system enrolment declined 11%.  There are enrollment declines for every university in the system from 2002-2007 (LSU-BR also lost 11%; LSU-A data did not start until after 2002). Obviously, Katrina affected UNO enrollment; UNO had a 34% decline from 2002-2007.  There have been small enrollment increases since 2007.  Some of the declines may be related to changes in admission standards.

·         UNO’s FALL2010 enrollment is 11,276 with 26% enrolled in graduate studies.

·         UNO lost 500 students in FALL 2010 compared to FALL 2009. [$4800=tuition +fees]/student*500 = $2.4 million in tuition revenue.  This may be attributable to raising tuition 10% and talk of cutting all university budgets in the next fiscal year by as much as 32%.  Students may prefer Delgado, where tuition is cheaper, until they can be certain their specific program will remain at UNO.  There is wide-spread agreement that budget cutting exercises harmed our enrollment (the University Senate passed a resolution criticizing these pointless and harmful exercises).

·         UNO has the most diverse student body of any institution of higher education in this state as ranked by  
US News and World Report.  UNO's score is .52, higher than any other LA campus (higher than Loyola or Tulane).


·         UNO is just as productive as LSU in producing degrees even though LSU has a much higher graduation rate.  Only those students that are first time freshman (i.e., started at UNO with 12 hours or more) are counted in this rate.  These students are followed over a six-year period to determine the rate.  The graduation rate measures only one component of degree production at UNO because roughly 40% of an incoming class is first time freshman.  Transfer students and graduate students are ignored by the graduation rate.  The number of degrees produced per FTE [Full Time Equivalent enrollment] is more reflective measure of degree production, especially for an urban university with many graduate students.  Degrees produced per FTE reveals that UNO is just as productive as LSU in degree production even though LSU has a much higher graduation rate:



BOR FTE Enrollment FY09-10

Degrees Awarded

Degree Production:

Most recent

Graduation Rate

























Back to top










Summary of Relevant info from the SREB Fact Book 2009 and other resources

·         Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) tracks educational trends in southern states.

·         According to the SREB publication No Time to Waste, the SREB policy goal is "To increase significantly the numbers of students who complete associate’s and bachelor’s degrees and postsecondary career certificates of value, so that 60 percent of each state’s adults ages 25 to 64 will have one of these credentials by 2025."

·         30% of new jobs will require a 4-year degree or higher (US Census forecast from 2006 to 2016) and only 20% of Louisiana’s adults have Bachelor’s or higher degree (SREB). 

·         In the US there is more than a $25,000/yr benefit to obtaining a Bachelor's degree over high school diploma alone.  There is an 18k premium to obtaining a Bachelor's over an Associate's degree.  The payoffs for graduate education are even more significant.  Beyond the B.A., there is an 11k payoff for a Master’s degree and 36k payoff for a Ph.D., and over a 61k payoff of obtaining a professional degree.



Salary-BA/BS salary

US 2007 Salaries by educational attainment
 (US census bureau)






Professional degree






Doctoral degree






Master's degree






Bachelor's degree






Associate's degree






Some college, no degree






High school diploma or GED credential






Some high school, no diploma






Less than ninth grade




·         Twenty percent of LA adults have Bachelor's or higher degrees (27% in US as a whole).  LA is 5th to last in this grouping (12% for blacks and 23% for whites).  In LA 20% of those 25+ have a bachelors degree, ranking 13th. In the SREB, only Kentucky, Arkansas and West Virginia have lower rates of Bachelor's degrees.

·         Louisiana is next to last (14 of 16 states) in proportion of state budget spent on higher education (7.8%).  Georgia (7.5%) and Florida (6.2%) were lower.  Table 13 2007-08 figures.

·         In FY08-09 (updated table 78) LA ranks 6th in state support per FTE, 14th in tuition and fees and 12th in overall revenue per FTE.  LA spends $7,756/FTE and collects $4,821/FTE in tuition and Fees.  SREB average is $7,575/FTE and $6,588/FTE in tuition and fees.  Overall revenue in LA is $12,577/FTE and for SREB it is $14,163/FTE. 

·         Since FY08-09 budget cuts have had a huge impact on state support at UNO. After the mid-year cut, UNO receives $4,278 in state support and almost $2,000 in stimulus fund support per FTE.  As will be the case next year, with state support alone, UNO will place 14th in state support and 16th in revenue per FTE (according to Table 78 for FY08-09). 


·         LA ranks near the bottom in faculty salaries (ranking 14th) with 65k average salary. (SREB average $73k).  Table 71 FY08-09. 

·         American Association of University Professors (AAUP) reports that faculty work from 48-52 hours a week (AAUP faculty workloads).

·         LA is last in graduation rates (37%).  SREB average is 52%.  US average is 55%.  LA is last in public 2-year college graduation rates (LA is 5%, SREB average is 16%).

·         There is a significant racial/ethnic gap in graduation rates in LA (Whites 45%, Blacks 28%) and in the SREB region (whites 56%, blacks 40%).  Race adjusted, LA is 11-12% from their SREB averages.

·         LA student progression rates are next to last but much better than the graduation rate (LA is 62% compared with 73% for SREB).  Student progression measures the sum of those who had graduated, transferred, or were still enrolled six years after entering.

·         LA ranks 3rd in minority higher education.  Blacks account for 31% of enrollments in LA four-year colleges and universities.  Georgia (33%) and Mississippi (40%) have higher proportions of minorities.  Hispanics and other groups account for very little of the minority student population in LA.

·         From 2003-08 FTE enrollment in LA dropped 8 % (SREB rose 9%).  LA peaked at 156k students enrolled in four-year universities in 2003 and in 2008 it had dropped to 140k (a 10% drop). In FTE terms, in FY04-05 4 year public college and universities in LA peaked at 137,710 FTEs and then dropped to 119,134 in FY08-09 (again a 10% drop). While FTE enrollment suffered its largest drop in 2006-07 it has been dropping every year from 2005.

·         LA uses more instructors (22%) than any other SREB state (SREB avg. is 9%).

·         LA has 31% of 18-24 year olds enrolled in post secondary institutions. Table 21 2007.

Back to top



Solutions to the "Cliff"

The GRAD Act is a key defense for higher education. We are mandated to improve graduation and retention rates in LA.  We cannot do this if we do not have sufficient resources.  There are some solutions:

1.       Freeze Budgets: 
Hiring freeze is already in place.  When faculty retire, they are not replaced. Many staff have been laid off.  Campuses are also deferring repairs and maintenance.

2.       Governor's budget authority: 
Urge the governor to use his authority (RS39:75) to cut 5% across the board.  If the state cut 6% of the top, that would cover the projected shortfall.  Legislation is being discussed to extend the governor’s authority to 10%.

3.       Refinance Debt:
With the lowest Interest rate of the past 50 years, the state could potentially save millions by refinancing its debt, and changing amortization schedules, etc.

4.       Fix the UAL/retirement problem:
Support closing the defined benefit retirement system for new hires and/or phase in a provision that would prevent retirees from taking benefits until they reach 65.  These two changes would have a huge impact on the value of the unfunded liability.  Roughly 20% of UNO's operating budget is dedicated to mandated costs including UALs [Unfunded Accrued Liabilities] of the retirement systems.  Legislation in this area has a high probably of success.  There were several bills last year trying to address this issue, some of which made it out of committee.

5.       Streamline the state's budget: 
Support some of State Treasurer Kennedy’s  recommendations on how to cut the state budget without cutting higher education and health care.  Much of his recommendations come from last year's committee on streamlining the state's budget.

6.       Eliminate per credit-hour tuition cap: 
Eliminate the cap on tuition so that students pay for every credit hour taken. Currently students pay for a maximum of only 12 credit hours but may enroll in up to 19.  The Legislature considered this alternative, but TOPS at the time required the state to pay for any added tuition. The TOPS funding formula could be reworked to exempt additional credit hours from TOPS funding.

7.       Differential Tuition:  Allow higher tuition for higher cost degree programs. As of now there is very little difference in tuition unless students are in medical or master of business programs.  Tuition should reflect the cost of providing degrees, which varies by major. There is a graduate enhancement fee for all graduate students at UNO because graduate education is more expensive to provide.  Supporting a 60% increase in these fees could generate more than $2 million for UNO.

8.       Stabilization Fee: 
Support a state stabilization fee.  This would be a temporary fee, lasting 3-5 years, to support higher education and health care until the budget situation improves.

9.       Minimum Funding formula:
Create a minimum funding formula per full-time student equal to the average of similar SREB ranked institutions.

10.   Needs-based Scholarships: 
As education becomes supported more by students, we need to make sure that financing is available for students without the financial means.  Now most state financing is merit based (i.e., TOPS) and we need to move to more need-based financing to help main enrollments and help higher education hold true to its mission.

11.   Address utility costs:
Approximately 15% of the UNO budget pays for utilities.  Support a measure that would sell carbon credits to convert our campuses to wind and solar power.  Utility saving is permanent and does not affect the functioning of the university.  We can also use this to leverage training engineers in green technology.  UNO is right along the lake with plenty of wind and sunshine.

12.   Tobacco tax:
Support raising the state tobacco tax for higher education.  Many states have much higher tobacco taxes than Louisiana.

13.   Sales Tax/ Stelly Plan revisited: 
There is limited support for the obvious solution of bring the Stelly Plan back.  Senator Nevers does support a temporary sales tax, but taxes will be tough to pass in this political climate. 

14.   Close down smaller institutions: 
President Lombardi said that even if we face a 32% cut, closing down eight smaller 4-year intuitions will only limit cuts to surviving intuitions to 12%.  This analysis does not consider the additional tuition dollars gained at area intuitions where displaced students would go to complete their education. President Lombardi was told by some legislators that this is not a possibility.

Back to top