Bill Making Changes To TOPS Faces Opposition From Students
A bill seeking to make major changes to TOPS faced opposition from LSU students. The Senate Education Committee defeated the measure to make TOPS a flat four-thousand dollar annual award and provide additional stipends for students who perform well on the ACT. LSU Student Body Vice President Rachel Campbell says the proposed legislation would force some LSU students to leave the state.
Campbell says, "I am also a TOPS recipient. Without it, I wouldn't have been able to have the experience I've had at LSU. When funding was not met last year, my parents encouraged me to move out of state without looking back."
Campbell says reducing TOPS award amounts for some students is not the way to build a strong economy.
Campbell says, "In order to strengthen the state's workforce and stimulate the state's crippling economy, legislators should reinvest in higher education and TOPS."
52-hundred students receive the TOPS award and Student Government President Stuart Locket says this legislation would hurt a large majority of LSU students.
Lockets says, "It just seems counterintuitive that we are taking away money from a majority of students here at LSU."
Senator Blade Morrish proposed the legislation as a way to lower the cost of TOPS for the state. It costs an estimated 290-million dollars. He says if the legislature is unwilling to overhaul TOPS then it will continue to struggle paying for it every year.
Morrish says, "It's a one year program and as a legislature, we need a sustainable source of income to continue this program."
It’s still unclear if TOPS will be fully funded next fall as a budget, possibly with a one-billion-dollar shortfall, has not been approved yet.