University leaders react to LOSFA funding decision

University leaders react to LOSFA funding decision

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - A day after the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance announced it would stop payments for the TOPS Program - now some of those payments will resume.

"I can see why that would be very scary to a lot of people. Parents and students included - everyone wonders what does this mean? " asked Candace Townsend,  director of public relations at McNeese State University.

Townsend welcomed the news, saying the previous announcement could have crippled the school.

"That was going to equate to about a $5.7 million loss in revenue to McNeese State University and now today, we're hearing that they're going to resume payments, but only pay the universities 80 percent of what the universities were expecting," Townsend added.

Colleges and universities across the state will now have to absorb the remaining 20 percent, which means around a $1.1 million loss for McNeese and a $120,000 loss for SOWELA Technical Community College.

While current students are already covered through the spring semester, Anna Daigle, interim executive director of enrollment services at SOWELA, said what happens during the upcoming legislative session is critical.

"It impacts those students who plan to attend and even the students that are planning to graduate that have worked so hard to earn their tops so it's those particular students will have to come up with a new plan on how they're going to be able to pay the tuition and fees," she said.

Daigle said there might be quite a few changes as the state wades through this financial crisis - but one thing will remain the same.

"Students are our number one priority so we're going to work very hard to make sure that the impact is very minimal, so at this time we don't know because we don't know what they're going to do is session but we hope that it's an outcome that's going to have a minimal impact on the students," she added.

Both Daigle and Townsend said students who depend on TOPS are in the clear for now, but they urge parents and students to pay close attention to the legislature this year as lawmakers work to fix the state's finances.

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