Baton Rouge - Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards released the following statement on the shortfall in funding for the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) for the Spring 2017 semester.  According to the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA), due to the historic budget shortfalls, students in Louisiana will only be eligible for 41.8 percent of the total award for the spring semester.

“When we leave our kids with more student debt than necessary, we’ve failed them. Going forward, it is my hope that we can restore funding to TOPS because too many students across the state are dependent upon the assistance it offers. In fact, despite the budget shortfalls we’re currently facing, we will not be making further cuts to this program. Today, we risk having an influx of students drop out of college or leave with burdensome debt. We can and must do better.

As I said in June, the gimmick of ‘front loading’ TOPS gave students and parents false hope for the future. Today, as I said this summer, Louisiana’s budget problems are having a real impact on students and their families. The upcoming regular session in 2017 will give us another opportunity to stabilize Louisiana’s budget and invest in our children’s futures, and I’m asking the legislature to work with me, so that Louisiana’s students are not left to shoulder the burden of our state’s financial problems.” 

This year, despite the financial challenges facing the state, students in higher education faced the smallest increase in tuition in a decade.

Information regarding TOPS funding for the spring semester is available in this FAQ from LOSFA by clicking here.

On June 24, at the close of the second special session, Gov. Edwards criticized the plan to ‘front load’ TOPS and the refusal of certain members of the legislature to work in a bipartisan way to avoid the shortfall. A clip of those remarks is available here.

In the same press conference, Gov. Edwards reminded the public of the potential shortfall for the fiscal year that ended on June 30 and how it would necessarily require action this fall. A clip of those remarks is available by clicking here.

In June, Gov. Edwards also called the budget gimmicks from certain members of the legislature regarding TOPS “disingenuous.” Read those remarks from The Advocate, by clicking here.