What Recent Changes In TOPS Means For Parents And Students
It's some breathing room. It's not a lot of breathing room but at least students and parents who have depended on Louisiana's Taylor Opportunity Program for Students to help fund college can expect help for the fall semester.
The tumultuous legislative session and special sessions have once again left Louisiana's best and brightest students abandoned when it comes to paying for college. However Governor John Bel Edwards did leave the "front loading" language for the program in the budget.
The "front loading" means that students will see TOPS awards for the fall semester funded as usual. That number will fall to 42% of the expected award in January of 2017.
But when the spring semester comes, we were trying to avoid taking out student loans but now we’ll probably have to take out some loans so, I’ll probably have to pay that back after I graduate.
The very concerned comments of LSU student Ally Balthazar. Her comments were reported by the Louisiana Radio Network.
Balthazar's comments reflected the attitude of many college bound students and their families. The ability to earn a higher education without carrying a football or shooting a basketball seems lost on the Legislature and the Governor. The fact that a college graduate will begin their life out of school saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt is not very attractive either.
In my house I have a student who will be a college freshman in the fall. With TOPS,attending a state school was very attractive. However with the reduced TOPS award in the spring our honor student could attend an out of state school for just about the same cost as going to school in state. Many of those out of state schools can offer a better reputation in her chosen field of study than any Louisiana college can offer.
The biggest issue with sending a kid to school out of state is that once they leave they very seldom come back. Will this budget saving maneuver backfire on the state? I am pretty sure other state's would love to have Louisiana's best and brightest students come be a part of their educated workforce.
The realist in me understands that if you don't have the money you don't have the money. The TOPS situation should have been addressed years ago. It wasn't because many of our legislators are no better than sheep. They do as they are told and are more concerned about getting re-elected than taking a tough stance on the issues that matter most to our state.