I’ve heard that TOPS payments were being suspended. Does that mean that students will lose TOPS funding this semester? What about next semester?
TOPS awards that students received this year will not be disturbed. Students will not be billed for their TOPS awards this semester, nor will any students lose their TOPS awards this semester. Next semester is uncertain at this point. Unless legislators raise revenue, TOPS is currently only funded next year at 25% of its usual yearly funding.
Note: TOPS is $28 million short in funding this year for what it needs to pay colleges for students’ bills for the rest of this semester. However, universities and colleges will have to absorb that $28 million – which will feel like a cut to those universities and colleges. The reason we are in this situation is because the previous administration did not properly budget enough money to pay for the real number of students on TOPS this semester.
Why is Gov. Edwards taking away TOPS funding and threatening to close colleges and universities?
Gov. Edwards is not taking away TOPS funding, nor threatening to close colleges and universities. The governor is working to try to save TOPS. The governor is informing the people of Louisiana that the previous administration did not budget enough money to pay the full TOPS bill for this year. That has forced the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) this spring semester to pay only 80% of each student’s TOPS bills to that student’s university because TOPS was not fully funded for this year. Gov. Edwards is not in favor of cutting TOPS or closing any college or university. However, the budget problems are so severe that drastic changes will have to take place if the legislature does not act during the special session to raise revenue.
How was the decision made to take TOPS funding away? Who made this decision?
The previous administration budgeted for too few students to use TOPS this year. That means that before the year ran out, TOPS money ran out. LOSFA, the organization that pays TOPS scholarship money to the various universities students attend, has only been able to pay each university up to 80% of each student’s bill this spring semester. Now, Gov. Edwards and this current legislature are the ones tasked with either cutting the TOPS program or finding the money to pay for it.
How will this affect my child currently enrolled at a Louisiana college or university?
Students who are on TOPS this semester will not be affected this semester. No student will be billed for their TOPS scholarship this semester or lose their TOPS award this semester. However, fewer TOPS awards will be awarded next year because TOPS is only 25% funded next year at this point, unless legislators work with the governor to find more revenue. Therefore, some students on TOPS this semester may not awarded a TOPS scholarship next semester.
How will this affect high school students who meet the qualifications for the TOPS scholarship?
Unless the legislature raises new revenue to stabilize the budget, fewer high school students who are applying for TOPS scholarships next year will be awarded TOPS next year. Again, this is because currently only 25% of TOPS funding is available for next year, unless legislators work with the governor to find new revenue during this special session. Typically, Louisiana spends more than $285 million a year on TOPS. Next year, there are no state general fund dollars available for TOPS. The Commissioner of Administration has said that the only money currently available for TOPS next year is $65 million from a small portion of the Tobacco Settlement Fund. This money is constitutionally dedicated to TOPS.