Louisiana is in a real fiscal mess. The budget shortfall is now being estimated at just over $950 million. Obviously budget cuts are going to become a big thing for awhile. One area that specialist say may be facing some sizable cuts is in the state's TOPS college tuition program.

If legislators can't find new funding for the program, we could see some changes in the  eligibility standards. in fact the program could be cut by a whopping 80 percent and the minimum ACT score could be raised to 28. Even with those drastic measures in place,  some students won't be eligible if their families are too wealthy. Just what is defined as "too wealthy" remains to be seen.

These sweeping changes will not only future college students, but students already in the TOPS program. According to Dr. Sujuan Boutté, executive director of the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOFSA) , a lot of students are asking questions about where the program stands and Boutte's response is,

"Right now, for those seniors asking us if they're OK, we really cannot answer whether they are or not,"

Right now,  LOSFA is somewhere in the vacinity of $27.5 and 28 million short for the TOPS appropriation that we are needing to pay this year's bills.

This could be very daunting for people who are high school seniors who have already selected a state school to attend next fall. No doubt, the situation has parents worried about whether or not they can even afford to send their kids to a state school at all.

The changes could affect the entire state higher education program because parents may elect to send their kids out-of-state to attend college. Between the TOPS cuts and parents opting for state colleges in other states our already ailing educational system could be at risk.

We'll keep you posted on this vital story as it develops.



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