On TOPS funding, Gov. Edwards said the following:
“As I said last night, students on TOPS this semester will not see cuts. The universities will absorb the TOPS shortfall this year. Students will not receive any bills for this shortfall or lose any TOPS awards this semester.
"For this semester, LOSFA has only been able to pay universities 80% of students’ TOPS bills. This is due in part to the previous administration not budgeting properly for all the students who would be using TOPS this year. However, the budget problems created by the previous administration do have the potential to hurt students directly. Next year, as it stands, TOPS is only funded 25 percent, unless the legislature acts to change that. This means fewer TOPS scholarships will be awarded next year. That is why it is so important for the legislature to work with me to balance this budget and prevent future cuts to the TOPS Scholarship Program.”
Yesterday, Edwards said the following concerning the program:
“The Louisiana TOPS scholarship fund is now so depleted that, if the legislature does not raise revenue, fewer high school students will receive awards and current recipients are in jeopardy of losing their existing scholarships for next year.
Even with additional revenue, higher education this year will need to cut $42 million. This will be combined with a $28 million cut in TOPS scholarship funds
that the universities will have to absorb, resulting in the largest mid-year cut in Louisiana history. However, if there is no new revenue raised this year, higher education will face catastrophic cuts over the next 4 months. And that comes on the heels of the largest disinvestment in higher education in the nation over the last eight years.”
It might be an understatement, to declare that the Louisiana universities are in panic mode. According to recent government figures, the state is roughly $950 million in the hole for the balance of this fiscal year and $2 billion in deficit for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2016. Historically, because the way the legislature has devised the budgetary system, higher education and healthcare needs are the