Less LA TOPS money leading to more National Guard recruits

Less LA TOPS money leading to more National Guard recruits

SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Students in Louisiana are turning to the National Guard as letters reminding them that they'll be paying much more for their education hit home.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers could only agree on funding roughly two-thirds of the $300 million required to fully fund the program. That resulted in every scholarship being reduced.

With TOPS (Taylor Opportunity Program for Students) only paying about 40 percent of upcoming spring tuition costs, college students must now find financial help elsewhere. That may help explain why the national guard has seen a roughly 20 percent jump in recruiting numbers lately.

"If someone is wanting to advance their life and go to college, we have the money to get them from where they are to where they want to be," said national guard recruiter first sergeant Todd Derrick.

Derrick explained that the 6-year commitment to the guard includes one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer.

"What we offer to them is a 100 percent tuition-exempt ride through college."

Derrick added that guard students are also given cash every month for books and other fees.

Joining the guard is a big commitment, and students at the Bossier Parish Community College give it mixed reviews.

Anganette Lavine, from Ville Platte, Louisiana, says she relies heavily on TOPS as a BPCC student and will need more help.

"Getting loans and trying to get more, sign up for scholarships and everything."

When asked about joining the national guard to pay for school Angenette smiled and shook her head side to side. "Not the national guard. I couldn't do it!"

However, her twin sister Antionette disagrees.

"I'm in the national guard, sir."

The Lavine twins are polar opposites when it comes to the guard. Looking at her sister, Antionette Lavine concluded, "I love it. Because like her, she's not in the national guard and she has to pay for everything and for me everything is paid for."

The only catch for Antionette she'll be taking online courses to begin with because she's being deployed to Kuwait next year.

Derrick says their college program requires students to maintain a minimum 2.0-grade point average across the board. For more information, you can call (318) 617-4716.

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