LAFAYETTE, La. — The University of Louisiana System has launched a new program with the goal of getting Louisianians back to school and finishing their bachelor's degree.

Those interested can apply at or text CompeteLA to 58052.

System President and CEO Jim Henderson discussed the details of the Compete LA program at a recent luncheon for One Acadiana members, The Acadiana Advocate reports.

The program is designed to re-engage the approximately 653,000 people in Louisiana — nearly one in five — with some college credits who dropped out before completing a degree. Henderson says the program is an opportunity to improve the state's second-to-last ranking on adults with a bachelor's degree or higher, but also a chance to work toward One Acadiana's goal of having 55% of Acadiana's population achieve a secondary education degree or certification by 2025.

People will be matched with a coach who will evaluate the completed courses to create a degree path to help them re-enroll and complete their degree as quickly as possible while working around their schedule.

Businesses can partner with the program by promoting employee benefits like tuition reimbursement and debt repayment, providing internship opportunities and sponsoring Compete LA.

The program has 51 degree programs ranging from business and education to health care and the humanities.

It was introduced in May and has already engaged with more than 1,100 students.

The United States has a 30.9% educational attainment rate at the level of Bachelor's Degree or higher. Louisiana sits at a 23.4% rate.

"For Louisiana to be competitive in the economy of the future, we have to develop a more educated workforce," Henderson said. "Compete LA is designed to cut through the red tape of returning to school and provide supports at every step of the student's educational journey."