Remember early in the semester, it was announced that TOPs was facing huge budget cuts due to the $1.6 billion deficit that Louisiana faced? Well, legislators passed a provision that allowed fall semester awards to be cover 93 percent and the burden was pushed to the spring semester. Well, guess what ladies and gentleman? The spring semester is now upon us and we must cover 60 percent of it.
If you are a Louisiana student, you know how important TOPS is to our livelihood. For those who are not, TOPS (Taylor Opportunity Program for Students) is a program of state scholarships for Louisiana residents who attend either one of the Louisiana Public Colleges and Universities, schools that a part of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, Louisiana approved Proprietary and Cosmetology Schools or Institutions that are a part of the Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (osfa.state.la.us). The TOPS program is worth $300 million so you can only imagine how many students will be affected by this decision.
Honestly, I think this decision is insane. Most college students are a part of the middle class and do not have the means to pay for college out of pocket. A lot of students might have to take out loans to pay for the remainder of the tuition. And if you are one of those people that think loans are not that bad, I disagree wholeheartedly. The loans have a huge interest rate that will increase over time if they are not paid. In Louisiana, the average debt for students are $23,025 (ticsa.org), but I believe that this debt could be avoided.
I believe that the Louisiana government does not care about higher education. Granted, Louisiana gave higher education officials $58.6 million instead of the $55.1 million they asked for this session (nola.com). However, I don’t believe this is enough. I do not believe that Louisiana shows support to the students that attend these higher education institutes. Most students that attend these universities depend on TOPS. They use the scholarship to cover their tuition and now that the program will only cover 40 percent, what will they do now?
Not going to college is not an option for anyone. Going to college and getting a degree is important in the job market. Having a degree can change your amount of income instantly. But how are students supposed to gain this degree if they are unable to pay for college? Honestly, it is ironic how society tells younger generations that they need to get a degree to have a decent living but how are they supposed to do that when college is incredibly high?