For some Louisiana students, it’s like coal in their stockings

Tens of thousands of Louisiana college students will be getting less aid this spring than they had expected and will need to find additional money for tuition. A big source of funding was cut and its impact will be felt this upcoming semester. The decision to cut the funding for the 2016–17 school year was made last spring, but decision makers kept the program fully funded for the fall semester sticking students with higher tuition for the spring.

The Louisiana scholarship program called TOPS (Taylor Opportunity Program for Students) has paid 100% of tuition for its recipients since its inception in 1997. More than 50,000 students currently receive the scholarship, which is based on two academic requirements, a 2.5 GPA and at least an average standardized test score. Many of these students chose in-state schools in order to capitalize on this program.

This reduction in tuition coverage resulted from the state of Louisiana’s huge budget shortfall. Sadly, state budget shortfalls are all too common across the country — at a time when tuition costs are rising faster than family incomes. One of the bigger budget cuts in Louisiana was TOPS. Fully funded the program cost was $300 million, but this year the state only funded it to the tune of $210 million. Plus, the decision on next year won’t be made until the legislative sessions start in March.

Put into this difficult situation, students will need to find ways to make up the tuition gap. Some may defer a semester in hopes that TOPS is fully funded for the next school year — delaying their graduation. Others may need to find a job (or second job). Some may seek additional loans generating more debt. While still others may search for less expensive classes outside their schools. And, this unexpected tuition gap may continue beyond this spring, which may cause some students to rethink their college decisions. Decisions such as these effect thousands of students across the country every day.

In response to this challenge, is adding Louisiana to its program to help students searching for less expensive classes.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.