McNeese, LSU students getting notices about reduced TOPS

McNeese, LSU students getting notices about reduced TOPS
(Source: McNeese Facebook Page)
(Source: McNeese Facebook Page)
(Source: McNeese Facebook Page)
(Source: McNeese Facebook Page)
(Source: Theresa Schmidt KPLC)
(Source: Theresa Schmidt KPLC)

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - McNeese State University and LSU students from Southwest Louisiana are getting notifications that TOPS will be funded at only 41.8 percent. It's heartbreaking for some, who already struggle to pay for college.

Brooke Smith, 20, was in tears as she expressed her concerns.

"It's very upsetting. It's hard, you know, because... I'm sorry," she said, trying to compose herself.

Smith is a psychology major who  considers the cuts a major setback and came to a meeting for students to search for alternatives.

"I'm trying to talk and find some scholarships right now and from there, I have to fill out my FAFSA, of course, and look into those options... That's like my main goal right now - just trying to find something to help me like scholarship-wise," she said.

Smith feels like a promise has been broken.

"I did good on my ACT; I did what I was supposed to do to be able to get this. I feel like, in a way, it was like an agreement that we made. You do your part and we'll do our part. So, I do feel betrayed because that is what was promised and it's like this is the good thing that's going to happen from you doing what you were supposed to do," said Smith.

It's upsetting to Maisie Pelafigue, too who is majoring in chemical engineering.

"As you're going through college, your ideal goal is to finish as soon as possible so you can start your career. So, it makes it difficult because now you also have to think, well, I can't take as many hours as I would like to because I have to work to help afford tuition," she said.

Pelafigue and Smith attended the first of three planning meetings to find out what's happening and what the options are.

"We were notified ...the tuition payment portion of the TOPS award for the spring semester is $1075 and 79 cents.  How much did you have for the fall? $2,395 is what your fall tuition award was," said Ralynn Castete, director of scholarships and testing.

So, it's a major shortfall for students who are counting on it. Castete encourages students to seek financial aid counseling and to explore all types of funding, including privately funded scholarships.

There are two more planning meeting in the La Jeunesse Room near the Student Union. Wednesday's meeting is at 1:30 p.m. Thursday's meeting is at 10 a.m.

Click here to read the Governor's statement on the reduced TOPS funding.

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