TOPS. It is the story on your Facebook timeline. It is the joke on Twitter. The meme on Instagram. However, it is currently a fear among college students and parents here at home.

Even though I was never a big fan of the whole 'school' thing, I knew that I needed to really buckle down once I got to high school. Once I got past my freshman year of high school, I started treating it like it was a job. This is because my mom made it known that TOPS was a must if I wanted to go to college and that I needed to work my butt off to get it. This meant enrolling is all honors courses, passing all of my tests, completing every assignment, and getting a great score on my ACT. It is safe to say that I was scared.

(Insert 'wish for money to grow on trees' here...)


Throughout my four years in high school, I consistently told myself that I didn't want to be stuck with a huge chunk of students loans when I got to college. So I worked my tail end off in high school, made the GPA, made the ACT score, and graduated with TOPS. Boy was that a breathe of fresh air.

I am now graduated from college with a very small student loan to pay, but I will say that I couldn't have completed my journey without TOPS funding. I know that there are many out there with hefty student loans to pay back. I also know that, where I am right now, I would not be able to pay loans back without being in extreme financial stress.

With that being said, I walked into my parents room last night and asked what my mom was up to. Her answer: 'Thankful that you aren't in school anymore.' I never thought the day would come that I would hear those words come out of her mouth. I knew things were getting rough.

There are potential changes in the future that can deeply affect funding for higher education. TOPS recipients may have a few problems to face. Those still in high school may have to aim a little higher (in terms of scoring) on the ACT. But none of this means the end.

For current high school students, never stop working. Don't let a fork in the road keep your from doing the best you can to fund your college career, no matter what the circumstances are.

For college students, never stop learning. I know that having that funding taken away will make you feel as though you need to quit or give up. No! Money can be taken away, but your intelligence, that cannot be taken from you. If you cannot attend a university or college campus, teach yourself. Don't let this 'mishap' keep you from bettering yourself for the long haul.

College was difficult for me to get through, but finishing and knowing that I did it regardless of the obstacles thrown in my way is quite rewarding.


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