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Governor Talks TOPS

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Students attending school on TOPS scholarships are receiving letters that they’ll owe 60% of their tuition in the Spring semester. Speaking on his monthly radio show, Governor John Bel Edwards says it didn’t have to be this way. 

“TOPS is unfortunately not funded at 100%. The Legislature, led by a few - I think - misguided individuals, convinced themselves that there would be more revenue realized than the fiscal notes said," explained the Governor.

The TOPS program costs $300 million.  Last session, the Legislature agreed to fund it at $210 million.

This is the first time TOPS students will have to contribute towards their tuition.

“And it’s unfortunate," says Edwards, "because we gave the Legislature several options that they could chose from to avoid this problem and fully fund TOPS. They chose not to."

Asked about the failure of a constitutional amendment that would have taken tuition setting authority away from the Legislature, giving it to the colleges and universities, the Governor said he doesn't think the voters "wanted the universities to have direct control over tuition and I know the higher education community really wanted to get control of the tuition component of their funding.”

He noted that a bill passed earlier this year uncoupled TOPS awards from tuition, meaning "increases in tuition don’t automatically increase the cost of the TOPS program, so that those tuition increases would be born by the parents or students."

That bill by state Senator Jack Donahue caps the total for TOPS at the amount available this school year. The Governor says he’ll give lawmakers another chance this Spring to fix TOPS for the next school year. “I will again propose measures to the Legislature that will fully fund TOPS going forward."