Louisiana HBCUs in Financial Jeopardy

Audit cites multiples factors for ‘poor financial health’ of three campuses.

Audit cites multiples factors for ‘poor financial health’ of three campuses.

A subcommittee of the Louisiana Board of Regents has classified three historically black campuses for ‘financial watch.’ signaling that the institutions are in dire, but reversible, states of fiscal deficit or stalled revenues.

Southern University at New Orleans, Grambling State University and Southern University — Shreveport were the lowest scoring institutions out of 36 public campuses in the state, measured by a financial assessment system grading schools on a scale of ‘0’ for poor financial health and ‘5’ for excellent.

SUNO received a zero, while Grambling and SUS received a 1.3 and 1.4, respectively.

From the Baton Rouge Advocate:

Likely contributing factors are declining state funding, a 26-percent increase in mandated costs to the state since 2008 and drops in full-time enrollment at some institutions. Since 2008 SUNO has seen a 13-percent drop in enrollment; Grambling has seen a loss of 19 percent, [Board of Regents Policy Analyst Matt] Adams said.

“Obviously enrollment is not the only reason an institution would be in fiscal stress,” Adams said. “As we know right now, it’s a combination of things.”

The Southern University System earned a 1.8, while the Louisiana State (2.9), University of Louisiana (3.0) and Louisiana Technical and Community Colleges (3.9) systems each earned higher scores in a formula comprised of each campus and system’s assets, debt, revenue and expenses.

Southern System President Ray Belton attributed SUNO’s struggles to changes in state appropriations, while still working with state officials to greenlight renovation and construction related to Hurricane Katrina recovery funding. State funding to the campus has decreased by 20 percent, and federal funding by three percent, over the last eight years.

None of the school’s are currently on the US Department of Education’s ‘heightened cash monitoring’ list, but could be subject to addition as a result of the state’s findings.