A popular state-funded scholarship program in Louisiana could be reduced by more than $100 million this summer, as Governor John Bel Edwards has submitted a proposal to cut the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS). According to the Times-Picayune, TOPS funds tuition at in-state public institution for Louisiana residents who meet certain academic requirements, would have cost more than $298 million to meet the needs of more than 51,000 students, the number of scholarship recipients enrolled this school year.
The proposed cuts will reduce funding to $110 million for the next school year, and will limit participation to just over 17,000 students. Edwards says that without tax increases, the funding simply will not be available.
“When you are short the way we are short, you just can’t do it all,” said Edwards.
Designed to help students from low-income families, the TOPS scholarship has faced increasing scrutiny in the last six months for the low number of students from Grambling State University and the Southern University System campuses qualifying for the funding, while a majority of recipients are from white, mostly affluent households.
According to the state’s latest report, the Southern System accounted for just over two percent of the students receiving TOPS funding in the state, and just under 2,700 black students statewide received scholarships under the program.