T. Brian Bond: LSU Shreveport a smart investment for students today
July 10, 2011
This editorial was written by LSUS alumnus T. Brian Bond, vice president of external affairs for AEP/SWEPCO and vice president of the LSUS Foundation Board of Directors. It was printed in the July 10, 2011 Shreveport Times Sunday paper.
When I enrolled in LSU Shreveport (LSUS) as an undergraduate student in 1978, I was seeking not only a quality, four-year degree but also an affordable one. My parents were both good, hardworking individuals. But with four children to educate, they could not afford to send me or my siblings to an expensive college outside the area.
I graduated from LSUS in 1981. And I remain convinced that if LSUS had not been here, I would probably not have a college degree and the professional opportunities my degree has afforded me.
Today, LSUS remains one of the most affordable universities in the country.
Recently, the U.S. Education Department and the College Affordability and Transparency Center released rankings showing LSU Shreveport as having the 15th lowest net price for public, four-year institutions in the United States. This ranking also makes LSUS the most affordable four-year college in Louisiana.
The net price is defined as the average price of attendance paid by full-time students after subtraction of grants and scholarships. LSU Shreveport's net price is substantially lower, at $4,364, than the national average of $10,747.
What makes this designation even more impressive is that LSUS receives the least state funding per full-time employee of all universities in Louisiana and is the most cost-effective university in terms of state funding per graduate.
In these tough economic times, LSUS has been the model for fiscal management in higher education.
Since 1972, LSUS has awarded 17,000 degrees, largely to residents of northwest Louisiana, thus providing a skilled work force to area employers. The economy of northwest Louisiana has been immeasurably impacted by these graduates and will continue to be as LSUS trains students for the high-skill, high-wage jobs of the future.
For example, the university's animation and visual effects program has created a valuable pipeline of workers for high-paying jobs in the movie industry, Air Force Global Strike Command, the Cyber Innovation Center and LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport.
Currently, close to 4,500 students are enrolled at LSUS in one of the 25 undergraduate or 12 graduate programs. For those students who graduate, they can expect a much higher standard of living over the course of their lives. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a bachelor's degree increases lifetime earnings for an individual by almost $1 million and a master's degree by close to $1.3 million.
LSUS was a smart investment for me and my family, and it remains a smart investment for students today.
In the face of tough economic times and substantial cuts in state funding of higher education, LSUS has persevered and continued its tradition of offering a high-quality education at an affordable price. We in northwest Louisiana are especially fortunate to have as our local university the "best buy" in the state and 15th "best buy" in the nation.