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TOPS: A life-line but not a full ride - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

TOPS: A life-line but not a full ride

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TOPS, or the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, is the scholarship program that rewards Louisiana students for furthering their education in-state. It can be centerpiece to financing a college degree -- but parents sending students off to school will tell you, it does have its limits. Some parents with college bound children may see tops, as a God-send. But getting TOPS doesn't necessarily mean a free ride. We take a look at what it pays for and what it doesn't.

David Hanie is a Louisiana Tech Alum. As a matter of fact, everyone in Haynie's family is either LA Tech alum or current student. Haynie said, "We tried to put three through college in the span of about 5 or 6 years so financially, that probably wasn't good planning on our part. It's kind of helped us keep our kids from having to, us or even them, get any loans to go to college." In a nation where typical student debt is $30,000 per borrower, Haynie says TOPS can be a lifeline for families. Haynie said, "It's a huge help from that stand point. I think anytime a student can go to college, get a degree and further their education and come out without incurring a lot of debt, that's always a positive."

But TOPS doesn't pay for everything. Katelyn Davis is the Assistant Director for Financial Aid at Louisiana Tech. Davis says TOPS is designed to help with tuition alone. "It will equal the tuition, so it will post to the students account at Louisiana Tech and if they have a balance then they will be responsible for paying that."

So things like room and board, meal plans, fees and books aren't covered.

For example, tuition alone at Louisiana Tech is about $1,800 dollars a quarter. TOPS will cover that. But the total cost of attendance, including room and board for a louisiana student attending tech, is about $3,800 per quarter. That leaves about $1,500 dollars for parents and students to come up with if they don't have any other scholarships or grants. Keep in mind, the typical academic year has 2 semesters at school -- at Tech, it's 3 quarters. Haynie says, fortunately their students had other academic scholarships to supplement funding their education. "Our out of pocket expenses through college have been very minimal. I love the fact that TOPS was enacted in Louisiana."

TOPS may be helping with keeping Louisiana students out of debt, or putting a dent in their debt once they graduate. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the state of Louisiana falls in tenth place when it comes to states with the least student debt. To see the full listing, click here.

For more on how TOPS stacks up at different schools, click here.

 

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