SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - Louisiana lawmakers need to find an additional $233 million to pay for TOPS scholarships, if they want to avoid cutting one of the state's most popular government programs.
"I kind of didn't believe it because most of my college plans were riding on TOPS," said Corrine Mitchell, senior at Sulphur High.
Teenagers all over Louisiana were shocked, scared, and angry to hear that the TOPS scholarship program was being suspended.
"Now, it's possible that I could lose that scholarship and may have to go into debt just to go to school and get my degree, and the deadlines for applying to out-of-state schools that I may have wanted to attend have already passed," Mitchell said.
Breanna Spicer, also a senior at Sulphur High, feels the same way.
"It's three months away from graduation so I was worried," Spicer said.
While TOPS is being reinstated for now, its future is still unclear, and without TOPS, many students and parents are re-assessing in-state enrollment.
"I'm from North Carolina, and before I moved I wanted to attend UNC-Chapel Hill, and I didn't apply there because out-of-state tuition is crazy," Mitchell said. "But now that I know I could be going into debt, I might as well have applied and tried to go."
TOPS being removed is a scary idea, but one students believe can be avoided.
"Don't just look at the ACT; maybe look at AP scores as well, because they're a little more rigorous," Spicer said.
"I think you can make TOPS, at least for the first one or two years, retroactive, especially for students who are low-scoring and low-achieving in high school," Mitchell said.
When everything is settled, these teens still hope they can rely on TOPS heading into college.
"I'm pretty sure they're gonna bring it back," Spicer said. "It's just a suspension, just to show we have a problem with the budget."
"I feel like they're gonna do their best to take care of us," Mitchell said. "That's what they were elected for. That's their job, and I hope at least for the seniors this year who are gonna miss out on a lot of opportunities because they were relying on TOPS, they'll take care of us and get us through college."
This report was contributed by KPLC LCB Academy Teen Reporter Dylan Alvarez.