TOPS Status Report
4/6/2016 | Updated 4/12/2016
On April 12, Governor Edwards proposed a TOPS budget of about $110 million for 2016-17, this is about $183 million short of the full cost of the program. According to the cut procedure in the TOPS law, current and incoming students with an ACT score of 26 or higher would maintain their scholarship. Students who do not have a FAFSA on file would lose their TOPS first, followed by students with lower ACT scores. LSU has roughly 7,000 students who fall between a 22 and 25 ACT.
Since its inception, every eligible student received a TOPS scholarship worth the amount of tuition. In this current fiscal year, TOPS had a shortfall, and the state decided to resolve the problem by asking the universities to “eat” the cost, which was $10 million for LSU. While students were not asked to cover the cost for this academic year, the universities did absorb that cost – in effect, absorbing another reduction from the state.
The TOPS appropriation is included in House Bill 1 (HB 1), which is at beginning of the legislative process. HB 1 will be amended many times, and TOPS funding could be increased.
There are other bills before the legislature that you may want to know about, and those are listed below. Some bills add repayment or reduction provisions while some change eligibility.
The most likely to get legislative approval are bills that would create a “floor” based on next year’s tuition, and the Legislature would have to specially appropriate any increases (HB 390, SB 81, SB 174). Many of these bills will be heard in the House Education Committee and Senate Education Committee.
Bills that have passed at least 1 committee:
HB 438, IVEY | Creates a new TOPS award for Transfer Students
SB 79, MORRISH | Sets a floor for the TOPS award amount.
SB 174, DONAHUE | Sets a floor for the TOPS award amount.
Bills that have been deferred in committee (unlikely to pass):
HB 296, HOFFMANN | Adds a course to TOPS core curriculum
HB 390, N.LANDRY | Sets a floor for the TOPS award amount.
HB 437, IVEY | Changes TOPS GPA requirements
HB 581, STOKES | Repayment of TOPS in case of stopping education
HB 848, HILFERTY | Limits places where TOPS scholarships can be used
SB 81, MORRISH | Limits times in which the TOPS floor can be raised.
SB 88, MORRISH | Raises GPA requirements.
SB 89, MORRISH | Increases ACT requirement for TOPS
SB 169, MORRISH | Limits places where TOPS can be used.
Bills that have not had a hearing yet:
HB 367, AMEDEE | Reduces the TOPS amount by the amount of need-based financial aid received by a student
HB 759, GAROFALO | TOPS repayment
HB 846, HILFERTY | Repayment in case of stopping education
HB 852, HUNTER | Provides relative to the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS)
HB 914, R.CARTER | Identifies places where TOPS can be used
HB 1050, N.LANDRY | Pro rata reduction in TOPS awards in the event of a shortfall