[StBernard] Expanding higher ed access for low income students

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Wed May 16 21:37:53 EDT 2007

Sorry, not only is this a bad, bad idea, but it once again demonstrates how
wasteful our state government can spend in a time when we need to be
fiscally conservative.

As for the merits of the program and it's fairness? Let me sum it up for
you. Once again, we have a proposed program where only the poorest of the
poor (ahh, minority) can benefit and middle class households - where you
don't make enough money to make ends meet, but still make too much for your
kids to qualify for the program - will get nothing!

So, that means everyone in the middle class - whose kids won't qualify -
will still be paying for the program (through their taxes) for everyone

Beside, why lower the standards of the TOPS program? In effect, that's
exactly what's going on here because the TOPS program already provides a way
for high school students - of any economic class - to "earn" (keyword) a
free trip to college. Why does Blanco and others want to just "give it
away" to kids who otherwise aren't smart enough to meet the minimum
standards of the TOPS program? And what makes them think these same kids
have it what it takes to cut the mustard in college? The answer is....gee,
could this be an election year??? Nahhhhh, that couldn't be it.

And what happens when a lot of these high school students head to LSU just
to have a "party semester" in the Fall just to drop out in December - or be
thrown out? What you'll have is a waste of thousands of dollars on each of
those drop outs. I have a better idea.

Any high school student - of any family income class - pays his/her way for
the first semester of their college attendance. After signing an agreement,
if they make a passsing GPA with full time hours, then that first semester
payment rolls into the next semester where they owe nothing. But, if they
fail at any future point and either drop out of college or dismissed, then
they have to repay the state for the semesters where their payment was
rolled forward. After all, if no incentive or threat of penalty is
established, then what motivation will any of these kids have to succeed?

Louisiana taxpayers have to be assured if we're going to foot the bill for
such a program, then we have to hold the students accountable for their
performance. Or another way of putting it....the taxpayers have to be
guarenteed a return on their investment.

- John Scurich

----- Original Message -----

> -----------------------------------------------------

> Expanding higher ed access for low income students

> A column by Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco


> I have always believed you can't allow your income to determine your

outcome. My proposed need-based scholarship program provides low-income
students with an equal chance to pursue higher education right here in


> The rising cost of college and university tuition places a financial

strain on all our students and shuts the door on many Louisianans who simply
cannot afford the price tag. Too many students are forced to take time off
from their studies to work while others incur large personal debts to cover
the cost of tuition and other expenses. In fact, Louisiana is ranked 12th in
the nation in student debt, with our graduates owing on average more than
$18,000. Such costs leave countless students behind.


> A student's income level should no longer control their ability to pursue

an education in our state.


> Our budget surplus and sound fiscal outlook create tremendous

opportunities for Louisiana. As part of my targeted investments in
education, I am asking legislators to open the door of opportunity for
students by establishing Louisiana's first substantial need-based
scholarships program.


> This $15 million initiative offers up to $2,000 annually for qualified

full-time students. Part-time students may be eligible for $1,000 each year.
First-time students who meet federal Pell Grant requirements and are
enrolled at any Louisiana public community and technical college or
university will be eligible, along with adult students yearning to get back
to college.


> Because most grants, scholarships, and financial aid only cover tuition

costs, students are left facing the rising cost of books and fees needed for
their studies. This program fills the gap.


> Early estimates reveal this program may help 25 percent of Louisiana's

incoming freshmen, but this program intends to improve higher ed access for
all our people. These grants will help older students who are looking to arm
themselves with a particular degree or vocational training before returning
to the workforce.


> We see the results of other Louisiana programs, like the TOPS scholarship

program, that were recently created to help our students cover tuition
costs. Louisiana has several successful merit-based programs helping our
students, but we need a greater investment in need-based aid. Currently,
only 1.3 percent of the aid offered in Louisiana is need-based while the
national average is 74 percent. Today, we are presented with an opportunity
to further expand access to education by easing the financial strain on
students who need it most. It's time for Louisiana to stop lagging behind
and make a critical investment to expand access to higher education across
our state.


> ###


> The Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation

> Louisiana's Fund for Louisiana's People

> www.louisianahelp.org

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