BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - At the capitol Wednesday, college students took matters into their own hands trying to save their schools from cuts.
The Grambling State marching band performed on the steps of the state capitol. Eight other universities joined Grambling to ask legislators to invest in their schools' futures rather than cut them.
Some student body presidents appeared before the House committee in charge of crafting the budget, asking them to fulfill what they called a "promise," and fully fund TOPS next year.
TOPS is currently funded around 70 percent this year. Next year, with the state short on cash, the governor's budget proposal has the scholarship program funded at 70 percent yet again.
Student leaders told lawmakers that without the fully funded scholarship, some have of their peers have been forced to get extra jobs.
"As funding is dissipating for TOPS, and it's becoming a bleak reality that you have to take on more and more loans, why not go somewhere else," asked John Pearce, student body president at Northwestern State University.
"When you continue this divestment, it may make receiving a degree in Louisiana much less attractive, because you may feel like, 'Okay, maybe Louisiana is not valuing education. So maybe I should seek to be educated elsewhere.' That's a popular sentiment I've heard from students," said Erin Fernandez, student government president at Southeastern University.
Of course, it's not just TOPS. Higher education has also fallen under the knife in recent years.
Over the last nine years, the state's annual spending on colleges has dropped by about $700 million. Under Governor John Bel Edwards' budget proposal, state schools could take another hit amounting to about $17 million next year.