April 12, 2016 | Updated April 18, 2016
Dear LSU Students, Faculty, and Staff,
In one of the first noteworthy events of the regular legislative session, Gov. Edwards today proposed revisions to the budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year, which begins on July 1. His plan includes a 7.6%* reduction in state general funds for higher education and recommends funding the TOPS program at approximately 38% of its current cost.
There are laws that govern how a TOPS shortfall is realized in terms of award distribution. In real impacts, this means current and prospective TOPS students who scored below a 26 composite ACT score would be in jeopardy of losing their scholarship for next year. Under the law, students who did not submit a Free Application for Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA) would be the first to lose their scholarships, followed by students in ascending order by ACT score and family income. If you are currently a TOPS-eligible student and have not filled out a FAFSA, we encourage you to do so now. If you are a faculty or staff member, please share this important news with your students.
While certainly not ideal, this news is somewhat better than most had anticipated. Remember, the state’s budget shortfall is approximately $750 million. The governor also proposed restoring a portion of funding to the LSU AgCenter and Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
We are appreciative of the strides made thus far, but session doesn’t end until June 6 and much can change between now and then. Gov. Edwards has also indicated that he will call a second special session in hope of generating additional revenue for the state.
Please keep educating your legislators and neighbors about the significant role LSU plays in Louisiana’s future success. Your voice matters. If we all speak as one, we can make a difference.
F. King Alexander
*The 1.6% increase in reductions reflect updated number from the Governor’s Office.