The governor presented a budget yesterday that included an 80 percent cut in TOPS funding as part of his “Doomsday Budget” that reflected a one billion dollar cut in state funds. President and CEO of the University of Louisiana System Dr. Jim Henderson says a cut like that would cost students and their families thousands of dollars a year.
“The average is about 6,000 dollars and you can do the math that an 80 percent cut to that would be 4,800 dollars. It could be more for some, less for others, but that gives you a pretty good ballpark.”
Along with a massive cut to TOPS, the budget included an additional 26 million dollar cut to higher education. Higher ed dodged further budget cuts last year, and Henderson says it had a big impact UL on the system.
“That stability given to us this last year meant that we were able to do planning. That’s what happen with a year of stability and as a result we have the highest enrollment statewide that we’ve had in the last five years.”
According to UL analysis, Louisiana universities currently operate at the lowest per student funding in the country.
Henderson says cutting TOPS would be a betrayal of hard working students.
“These students were promised TOPS in return for a certain level of performance. They’ve upheld their end of the bargain, now Louisiana needs to uphold its commitment to them.“
Henderson says he doesn’t believe the “Doomsday Budget” will be adopted, but he is concerned that continued uncertainty involving TOPS could drive Louisiana’s best and brightest out of state.