TOPS funding cut down to 41.8% for spring 2017 semester

Courtesy: KNOE

MONROE, La (KNOE 8 News) - TOPS funding for the spring 2017 semester has been cut down to only 41.8% due to Louisiana's budget crisis.

Gov. John Bel Edwards says no further cuts will be made to the scholarship program.

Students and families are left to find the missing 68-69% of funds normally provided from TOPS elsewhere, and the ULM Admissions Department is encouraging families to stay positive.

"Keep on top of it with your students. It's still out there, it hasn't gone away completely, and we just never know what the changes will be. Everybody is still fighting for it," says Katelin Hubbard, Coordinator of ULM Admissions and Scholarships.

Hubbard also says she also encourages students in need of money for schooling to apply for extra scholarships and financial aid.

ULM students are reacting with uncertainty and disappointment.

"It's really disappointing mainly because this is going to be my third to last semester of my college career, and I've received my full TOPS for my first five semesters, and like I said, I'm close to being finished. Yet my scholarship is going to be less than half of what I've been receiving. I know my parents probably feel the same way I do," says ULM junior, Mckae Chaney.

Justace Keller, also a junior at ULM, says she doesn't believe funding for TOPS will ever reach its full potential again.

"Education is always the first to go. I don't think it will ever be back at 100%. I think they will try their best to get it as high as they can. Maybe back to 50-60%, but I don't think it will be back at 100%," says Keller.

Student Ethan Troth says he think the state will do everything they can to raise TOPS funding again.

"I think eventually they'll try to pick it back up. Obviously they make education is a real priority in the state. They know the workforce has to have good education. They don't want us to not have less funding to go to school," Troth says.

In a statement issued by Gov. Edwards, he says he does not wish to leave students to "shoulder the burden of our state's financial problems".

Edwards also says the upcoming regular legislative session in 2017 will give the state another chance to stabilize Louisiana's budget and invest in children's futures.