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TOPS funding hits all-time low

February 4, 2017

 

Students concerned of collegiate futures amidst financial aid cuts

 

Amber Harrington
News Editor | anh038@latech.edu

 

The turn of the winter season into spring may bring unfortunate financial news for some Louisiana Tech students.

 

Beginning the spring quarter of 2017, the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) will be cutting eligible student funding to 41.8 percent.

 

Tech President, Les Guice, feels the timing of the change presents the greatest problem.

 

“The biggest issue with the TOPS reductions this year, in my view, is that students and families have had little time to prepare for the cuts,”Guice said. “But the state’s budget shortfalls have left the state with few choices.”

 

According to Guice, Tech has one of the highest numbers of TOPS students in the state. This means that when the cuts occur, they could potentially affect currently enrolled and future students.

 

“The biggest issue with the TOPS reductions this year, in my view, is that students and families have had little time to prepare for the cuts. But the state’s budget shortfalls have left the state with few choices.”
– President Les Guice

“We are not sure how much the TOPS cuts impacted the numbers of students who came this year,” he said. “We had an increase in enrollment, but we know that some students were not able to come to Tech because of the flooding in South Louisiana and TOPS cuts.”

 

Despite the cuts, Guice said it was too early to predict a change in the number of incoming freshman for the 2017 school year, as Tech will take other measures to ensure financial assistance.

 

“Even without full TOPS funding, we believe that the Tech degree is affordable for most students and is a great value and return on investment,” he said. “Tech has received numerous national recognitions for such. And we continue to place a priority on raising private funds for scholarships and work with our corporate partners to provide other forms of support to help students.”

 

Leah Spence, a sophomore biology major with a concentration in pre-pharmacy, said she’s concerned the lack of TOPS may now hinder current students, like her, from being able to afford tuition.

 

“Students may have to start taking out loans or getting a job to pay for school in the middle of the school year,” she said. “They will have to start worrying about money, since TOPS can’t pay for it any more.”

 

Spence said while the TOPS situation is stressful, she is relieved Tech is generous with its financial aid.

 

“Compared to other schools, Tech offers a decent amount of financial aid to deserving students,” she said. “That’s very helpful.” 

 

Aimee Baxter, Tech’s director of financial aid, said while financial aid is available, students should start planning for the reduced spring TOPS amount and the additional out-of-pocket expense.

 

“Some limited university assistance may be available for the spring quarter, but it would not cover the amount of the full reduction,” Baxter said. “Hopefully, students/parents have made provisions for the reduced spring TOPS amounts.”

 

Baxter also said as of Jan. 19, the university has 6,316 federal financial aid applications for the 2017 award year, which is an increase from previous years. However, she still encourages eligible students to apply for financial aid as soon as possible.

 

“If a student would like to request additional federal financial aid if they have remaining eligibility or have previously declined federal aid, they should do so as soon as possible in order to have their request processed prior to the Spring Quarter,” she said. “The Request for Revision of Fin Aid Awards can be found on the Financial Aid website under Resources, Forms, Academic Year 2016 and must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office for processing the request.”

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