Lawmakers will look at changing TOPS to rein in growing state cost

State lawmakers next month will begin studying possible changes to the popular TOPS scholarship program in an effort to rein in its growing cost to the state budget.

The Legislature this year passed a resolution creating a task force dedicated to study the 20-year-old program, which covers tuition for in-state students who meet basic academic benchmarks. The task force will study the program’s purpose, history, finances and ways to make it viable long-term, according to a House of Representatives news release.

The cost of TOPS has risen dramatically in the past decade, largely due to state universities raising tuition to offset direct state funding cuts. TOPS, which began as a $35 million program in 1997, now costs more than $300 million.

Several Capital Region lawmakers are on the task force, including Baton Rouge Reps. Ted James and Franklin Foil as well as Sens. Ed Price of Gonzales and Bodi White of Central.

Dozens of proposed changes to TOPS, like increasing academic benchmarks and adding means-testing to the program, have failed in recent years.

The first meeting of the joint task force is Sept. 6.

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