Louisiana’s budget problems has raised concerns about the future of the state’s taxpayer funded college scholarship known as TOPS. The highly popular program has run into money issues this year as the state may not have enough money to fully pay a recipients scholarship. Senate Education Chairman Blade Morrish says the legislature will likely look at options to control TOPS spending during the regular legislative session.
“There’s several avenues. One would be to raise the requirements. Two would be to put a cap on TOPS,” Morrish said.
According to Governor John Bel Edwards, TOPS is only funded at 25% for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, unless the legislature acts to change that, which means fewer scholarships would be awarded next year. Morrish says he believes limiting the amount a TOPS recipient receives might be their best course of action.
“We’re probably gonna have to find a cap. I don’t know what that number is,” Morrish said.
Morrish has proposed bill to cap TOPS in the past, and he plans to propose bills on the TOPS issue in the upcoming regular session.
Morrish says if the legislature elects to make dramatic changes to TOPS, they will likely not take effect immediately, because it would be unfair to students who are already counting on the program.
“If we change that, which I propose that we do, I don’t think we can do that next year. I don’t think that’s fair to, say, a student that’s a junior in high school,” Morrish said.
The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance has announced they will pay 80% of tuition, and universities will have to absorb the remaining 20%. No students will be billed for the current semester.