Aug. 31, 2016 03:23 PM

Martin Hall, UL Lafayette
Enrollment in Louisiana’s public higher education system has dropped by about 4.4 percent in a five-year span.

The Advertiser reports that enrollment has dropped by about 10,000 students in five years — from roughly 225,000 in 2010 to 215,000 in 2015.

During that time, schools have significantly raised tuition and fees as well as cut costs through eliminating programs.

“We’ve had to increase tuition and fees and really ... we’re out-pricing our market,” said Ray Belton, president-chancellor of the Southern University System since July 1, 2015.

The Southern system, the smallest system in the state, lost 958 students or 6.8 percent in five years. It has more than 13,000 students in four schools, down from 14,019 in 2010.

According to CollegeBoard, average tuition and fees for in-state schools went from $4,733 in 2010-11 to $7,871 in 2015-16. That’s a 66-percent increase in tuition and fees.

Belton said there are students with an outstanding balance by the spring semester who just can’t afford to stay.

“We are now very sensitive to the cost of enrollment, and we hope to start reversing that trend of tuition increases,” Belton said. “This year alone we’re looking at out-of-state tuition. We made the decision to reduce it by $1,000 with the aim, moving forward, to not charge more for out-of-state.”

Schools in the Louisiana Community & Technical Colleges System saw tuition hikes for several consecutive years. This coming school year will be the first time since 2008 that LCTCS students won’t see an increase.

And from 2010 to 2015, the system dropped about 10 percent, losing 7,373 students to about 66,000.