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Senate To Consider Contingency Plan For TOPS Shortfall

Design Pics/ThinkStock
Design Pics/ThinkStock

The Taylor Opportunity Program For Students was put in place to encourage Louisiana’s best and brightest students to continue their education in the state. The theory was that a student educated here would stay here. That would mean a stronger more educated workforce. That  would also mean better and higher paying jobs. That should extrapolate into a higher tax base.  In today’s state of the state of Louisiana all that means is nothing.

The current budget to fund TOPS as the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students is called is $300 million. Under Governor John Bel Edwards’ proposed budget there is only $110 million set aside to fund the program. That means our state is $190 million short on its promise to students and families.

This week the Louisiana Senate is expected to take up debate on a plan that would not leave any student out in the cold. According to Jennings Senator Blade Morrish if the money is not there then it’s time to change the rules.

Everyone would get something, no one would be left behind totally.

Under Morrish’s plan students who met the standards for TOPS would at least get some help with college tuition. Obviously there isn’t enough money to provide a total education plan for everyone.

The university could waive the difference and simply eat it or find new scholarships or financial aid or whatever it may take for them to get their additional amount.

Currently the requirements to obtain a TOPS scholarship are a GPA of 2.5 in high school and a score of at least 20 on the ACT exam. Many people have speculated that the only way to fund TOPS is to raise the requirements in both of those areas. Morrish, based on his comments to the Louisiana Radio Network feels that this isn’t exactly fair to Louisiana students and families.

So you are literally taking people who have who have earned TOPS, who have qualified for TOPS and saying you’re going to get nothing.

I suppose the idea is that something is better than nothing. Governor John Bel Edwards supports this legislation by the way. Whether other lawmakers agree with the Governor and Senator Morrish remains to be seen. Hopefully we will have a clearer picture of what students and families can expect from TOPS by later in the week after the Senate has had time to debate the issue.


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