There was a time in Louisiana history where a program was brought forth and approved by the people of the state to improve higher education. The program, the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, was designed to be an incentive to keep our state's best and brightest students in the state for college.

The program really worked well. In fact, it worked too well and was quite often abused. There are many cases where students used TOPS money to fund a semester or two of college party time before losing their benefits.

With state budget cuts and the mismanagement of the TOPS program from the beginning, that's my opinion, by the way, today's students and families no longer have the full TOPS  benefit that was awarded to others.

Recent cuts in the state budget, particularly to higher education, have resulted in higher tuition fees for student's attending our state's universities. Those higher tuition fees will begin with the spring semester. To be more accurate there will be a significantly higher obligation for TOPS students during the spring semester. We are not implying that the actual cost of tuition has increased, yet.

Here are some  examples of the changes in tuition for the Spring Semester:

LSU students will now pay $2,172 per semester with the limited TOPS benefit. The tuition without TOPS will be $3,731. For students attending the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, spring tuition is estimated to be $1,573 with TOPS and $2,703 without the stipend.

What this breaks down to is students and their families are now responsible for covering 58% of their tuition costs as opposed to the opportunity to have 100% of the cost covered in the beginning of TOPS.

Writer Julia O'Donoghue with and the  Times-Picayune newspaper has a more detailed breakdown of tuition changes in a story that was published on November 14th.