A promise is a promise unless you're a Louisiana politician. If you're an elected official a promise is just something you say to get elected. Harsh? I don't think so.

In the case of TOPS, just about every member of the legislature, the governor's office, and any other agency that has anything to do with higher education in our state lied to us. They lied at the expense at the future of our state.

The Taylor Opportunity Program for Students was initiated so that students who reached or exceeded certain academic standards would be guaranteed money for higher education. The mismanagement, negligence, and just poor design the TOPS program is now just about 40% of what it was intended to be.

The exceptions to the rule are the University of New Orleans and Northwestern State University. These two institutions had the foresight to see the train wreck that was coming and they prepared for it.

NSU President Jim Henderson told the Louisiana Radio Network,

For students to incur additional debt, for students to drop out of school, for students not to graduate, to us, you can’t even consider that option.

This past week, students and parents received letters from institutions of higher learning across the state explaining just how much money would now be needed for a student to begin or continue their education.

For many families, the added financial burden will end the dream of a degree. Dr. Henderson suggests in his comments that is not an acceptable outcome.

Basically, our college savings plan was TOPS, that’s what we told students for over a decade. They did all the things necessary to receive what the state promised them and upholding that promise to us is sacrosanct.

Northwestern State plans to cover the shortfall in TOPS money by reallocating money from donors and offering some flexible financial options to students who need the help.