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Nicholls State could end semester early because of looming budget cuts

Nicholls State could close three weeks early to help with counter the state's budget shortfall. (FOX 8) Nicholls State could close three weeks early to help with counter the state's budget shortfall. (FOX 8)
THIBODAUX, LA (WVUE) -

Nicholls State University could close for two to three weeks at the end of the spring semester due to possible budget cuts to higher education.

The college, located in Thibodaux, submitted documents Monday to the state outlining how $70 million in cuts to higher education would impact Nicholls.

The cuts are needed to help close the state's $940 million budget shortfall.

"We've got three weeks to find out. Hopefully it won't affect graduation," University of Louisiana System President Dan Reneau told Nola.com | The Times-Picayune.

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne said public school funding would be shielded but every other agency plus colleges and health services would take hefty cuts if Gov. John Bel Edwards' proposed tax hikes aren't passed to bring in new revenue. A major concern for lawmakers; the possibility TOPS funding will be gone after this year.

“They're gonna get their TOPS money and they're going to finish out the year, the only caveat is if there’s no revenue under the scenarios we've talked about and if those universities close those doors, then the TOPS scholarship recipients will have no classes to go to,” Dardenne explained.

Nicholls State University President Dr. Bruce Murphy said the school has absolutely no intention of closing unless there is no other option.

"Nicholls was asked to provide a list of hypothetical scenarios regarding how the campus might handle varying degrees of mid-year budget cuts. Nicholls submitted a financial planning document listing several options that the university is considering. One of those options includes temporarily closing the campus for several days. Obviously, that is the absolute last option that Nicholls would ever take," Murphy said.

He added Nicholls is working closely with state legislators to find solutions to the budget shortfall facing Louisiana higher education.

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