The House Education Committee rejected a proposal to increase the GPA a college student must achieve to keep their TOPS scholarship. It also said “No” to a bill to make a TOPS recipient pay back some or all of their scholarship if they fail or withdraw from school. New Orleans Representative Walt Leger says changing TOPS to a loan makes it less of an opportunity for students.
“It’s not necessarily a failure for a student to make a decision not to pursue their degree, and you’re certainly changing the opportunity that’s being presented to many students,” Leger said.
Kenner Representative Julie Stokes authored the proposal to make students who don’t graduate pay back their TOPS scholarship. She says a lot of students get to college and have too much fun, then they end up dropping out.
“I’m actually trying to help these kids get their education so that they’ll take it seriously,” Stokes said.
Hammond Representative Chris Broadwater proposed a bill that would make TOPS a partial scholarship, in which recipients would receive more money each year. That bill also failed to make it out of committee. Broadwater says lawmakers have to do something to save the TOPS program.
“If we go through this process and all of these bills just die in committee and we don’t try to do something, then we’ve got a challenge,” Broadwater said.