TOPS Limitations Signed Into Law
We knew that changes would have to be made to Louisiana's TOPS program if the program was to remain solvent. Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law yesterday the first of what could be many changes to the plan. The plan, the Taylor Opportunity for Students, was supposed to ensure that Louisiana's best and brightest students would be given an opportunity to get a higher education in state.
Some suggest that the program has been too popular for its own good. Others maintain that colleges and universities saw the program as a way to earn more money at the hands of the state by raising tuition costs that would be paid for by TOPS.
Dr. James Callier, the executive director of the TOPS program, told the Louisiana Radio Network:
Unfortunately, money has been the issue, not because of the program, but because tuition increases.
That will not be the case after 2017. The bill that Governor Edwards signed into law will freeze TOPS awards at the current level. That means there will not be an increase in TOPS money, even if tuition is increased.
Will this plan fix and stabilize the TOPS program for future students? Mandeville Senator Jack Donahue says this legislation is at least a start.
We still have some difficulties to face with TOPS in this budget crisis that we have. When programs are really successful like this program, they just can’t continue to grow forever.
The good news for parents and students appears to be this: There will be TOPS money available to help with higher cost of education for those who qualify. The bad news is that the program will continue to cover less and less of the cost of that education over time.