TOPS

The special legislative session is over. A budget deal has been reached. And changes are in store for TOPS, the state's college scholarship program.

Taming TOPS

Apr 2, 2015

It happens every session: lawmakers, seeing the quarter of a billion dollar price tag on TOPS, look for ways to tweak the college scholarship program. This time, they might succeed. “By establishing a ‘baseline’ tuition, future tuition increases will not be reflected in the state budget,” says Senate Finance committee chairman Jack Donahue, who is the author of Senate Bill 48. “This will allow the legislature to do a better job predicting the overall cost.

“It it’s not broken, let’s don’t try to fix it,” Senator Francis Thompson of Delhi summed up the sentiment of a majority of the Senate regarding TOPS. TOPS isn’t broken, but many lawmakers see curbing the cost of the college scholarship program as part of the fix for the state budget. A measure that would have saved an estimated $24-million per year, by raising the standards for TOPS was argued on the Senate floor Monday.

Lissandra Melo / <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-121588291/stock-photo-locker-room.html?src=I5BauM-UKx4diJFZCV45vw-1-8">Shutterstock</a>

The House Education Committee shot down a bill that would change eligibility for Louisiana's TOPS program and require repayment of the free college tuition if students lose their awards. Napoleonville Representative Joe Harrison was pushing the TOPS changes as a way to cut costs for a program expected to cost about $235 million next year. Several lawmakers said they were worried about the long-term financial stability of the program, but that didn't generate enough votes for Harrison's...