NEW ORLEANS - UNO students and parents got a letter from University President John Niclow saying that the university would be covering the financial gap created by the TOPS funding shortfall for students during the spring semester. To make that happen, UNO required financial aid students to file for FAFSA that way the university would get all the federal and state aid available to them as grants.
“What that allowed us to do is to help more students across the board and to use our institutional aid more strategically” explained Dr. Nicklow.
On most days you can find Shannon Alsheres and her husband serving up arguably some of the city’s best shawarma. While she’s a business owner she’s also the mother of a college student at the University of New Orleans.
“Engineering, he is going to become a mechanical engineer” explained Alsheres.
Her son is one of 51,000 students in the state that receive the state TOPS scholarship. With Louisiana facing a $313 million budget deficit lawmakers cut nearly $90 million from the TOPS program.
“It was like almost devastating. How are they going to go to school? How are we going to get it? Are we going to have to get a loan or anything like that?”
With Governor John Bel Edwards and the state legislature unable to find the money to fully fund the scholarship this year, students will be responsible for covering 58 percent of their tuition. That means UNO students receiving TOPS would need to find just over $1,700 to pay for the spring semester.
Alsheres said, “Even our son was stressing out about it saying, 'Oh, how I am I going to come up with it?' because he felt like it was his burden and not our burden. Thank God for UNO to say that because if they wouldn’t have stepped up to the table and paid for that additional amount. I think a lot of kids would have been out of school.”
A real fear that thousands more students may have to face come this spring semester.