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TOPS scholarships eligibility could change

One area facing deep cuts as a result of the state’s budget deficit is the TOPS college tuition program.TOPS eligibility standards could change if legislators don’t come up with new funding for the program. It could be cut by 80 percent and the minimum ACT score could be raised to 28 and even then, some students won’t be eligible if their families are too wealthy.

It’s an issue that not only affects college students currently receiving TOPS money, but it also affects those who will be heading into their freshman year of college this fall.

New Orleans oilman Patrick F. Taylor, center, poses for a photo in 1989 with some of his 'Taylor's kids' at Marion Abramson High School in eastern New Orleans. Taylor promised to foot the tuition bill for local students who made the grade, a program that evolved into Louisiana's popular TOPS scholarship program. (Irwin Thompson/The Times-Picayune)

New Orleans oilman Patrick F. Taylor, center, poses for a photo in 1989 with some of his ‘Taylor’s kids’ at Marion Abramson High School in eastern New Orleans. Taylor promised to foot the tuition bill for local students who made the grade, a program that evolved into Louisiana’s popular TOPS scholarship program.(Irwin Thompson/The Times-Picayune)

“Right now, for those seniors asking us if they’re OK, we really cannot answer whether they are or not,” said Dr. Sujuan Boutté, executive director of the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance.

In front of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee on Sunday, LOSFA officials shared the current state of TOPS funding.

“At this point, LOSFA is approximately between $27.5 and 28 million short for the TOPS appropriation that we are needing to pay this year’s bills,” she said.

For students currently enrolled in a state institution who are receiving TOPS scholarships, whatever LOSFA cannot pay will be absorbed by their respective schools.

For high school seniors who may have already decided which state school they plan on attending in the fall, the threat could be looming.

“Students have applied for college. We do that in October. We still help students apply in the spring, but if you’re applying now you’re late and if you’re telling those students we do not know if you’re going to have TOPS next year, then that student and their parents are now comparing the net cost of college in the state of Louisiana to the net cost of college in other states that are poaching our students,” explained Boutté. “Now, it’s March, right? Where are you going to apply and get in?”

It will all come down to the process of elimination.

LOFSA proposed an idea to make the eligibility for TOPS more stringent, which would include raising the acceptable ACT score to 28.

To that point, Rep.Larry Bagley, R- DeSoto Parish, expressed his concern about maximum eligibility.

“I’d like to see numbers of someone that had a zero family contribution, which is very poor – how many of them have 28. I’m going to bet there’s not any,” said Bagley.

The Joint Budget Committee originally planned to vote on this proposal on Sunday but Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, delayed the vote, stating there are still many questions that need to be asked.

Copyright 2016 KPLC. All rights reserved.

Spotlight: Molo Middle School, Lake Charles, Louisiana


Molo Magnet Middle School News

Principal Shonna Anderson is leading her school into a new technological direction. Sure, many schools have computer labs and technology tools at the ready, but the question is how do they use them? “This school year was a big step in utilizing technology”, says Mr. Dotson, Math and News Production teacher. Mr. Dotson didn’t want to implement another news program that all other schools have. They also wanted to go much further than the school newsletter. So this year the school purchased the Adobe software suite and decided to produce their morning news program through Adobe After Effects. The technical knowledge needed to create media productions through software designed for high end Hollywood films was daunting yet possible. Mr. Dotson says, “learning programs like After Effects allows our students to create in ways that push their imagination.” As the school continues to build upon that knowledge base, future media productions will no longer appear to be “school made”, due to the professional content the students are learning. Click on the news set graphic and take a look at a Teacher’s Edition broadcast from year 1.
School Website Molo Magnet Middle

lb_deptLogo1Want to know your School Performance Score? Since 1999, the state has issued School Performance Scores for public schools, which are based on student achievement data. All schools with sufficient data receive school performance scores of A-F.

Bese February Standards Review Meeting…Louisiana is continuing the state’s tradition of periodic professional reviews of the state’s academic content standards for students.

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