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WISE Incentive Fund to subsidize degrees

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Governor Bobby Jindal signed House Bill 1033, which would create the Workforce Innovation for a Stronger Economy (WISE) fund recently.

This plan, which went into effect on June 19, created a $40 million pool of money for Louisiana colleges to compete over.

The WISE fund was created within the state treasury as a special fund for the purposes of funding degree and certificate production and research priorities in high demand fields through programs offered by Louisiana’s public postsecondary education institutions to meet workforce needs.

Jindal said in an interview with the Advocate that it was “one of the most important bills passed this session.”

He also said this will be one of the important legacies of his administration.

In order for the university to receive money from the fund, a private entity must match at least 20 percent of the money being distributed in the form of cash, internships, scholarships, sponsorship, faculty endowment or tangible property.

This system is in place to foster better relationships between colleges and businesses.

A WISE Strategic Planning Council, an independent subcommittee of the Board of Regents, will develop a method to distribute the money statewide, in alignment with the statewide demand and gap analysis and research priorities provided in the bill.

The WISE council will meet at least twice a year and will be comprised of the president-chancellor of Louisiana State University, the president of the Southern University System, the president of the University of Louisiana System, the president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, the commissioner of higher education, the secretary of the Department of Economic Development, the executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission and the chairman of the Workforce Investment Council, or their successors.

80 percent of the funds will be distributed based on the number of degrees awarded in high-demand fields. The other 20 percent will be given based on federally funded research, as defined by the National Science Foundation.

President Murphy mentioned the WISE fund at the faculty institute last week.

“I told you last year that I didn’t think the $40 million was the important figure. I told you that the important part of that message from the governor was that they intended to not cut higher education and that they intended to let us keep any tuition increases that came in. Both of those promises have been met,” Murphy said.

Dr. Milton Saidu, department head of petroleum engineering technology, said that this bill could be good news for the science departments, particularly the engineering department.

“From the department standpoint, we are hoping we should be able to get a substantial amount to be able to contribute to the workforce initiative, considering the fact that our students are directly tied into the growth and the economy in this southeastern region,” Saidu said.

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The student newspaper of Nicholls State University
WISE Incentive Fund to subsidize degrees