College students in Louisiana who pay tuition using TOPS should be prepared to pay 60 percent of their tuition for the Spring 2017 semester.

According to a press release form Gov. John Bel Edwards' office, the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) is citing "historic budget shortfalls in Louisiana" as the reason TOPS will be funded to only 41.8 percent next year.

“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." --Gov. John Bel Edwards

In the press release from the governor's office, Edwards noted, this year, despite the financial challenges facing the state, students in higher education faced the smallest tuition increase in a decade.

"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.”

As the TOPS funding stands now, LOSFA officials do not expect there to be any funding available for the Summer 2017 semester.

According to LOSFA, since inception, TOPS has assisted over 290,770 students with tuition expenses. In academic year 2015-16, 51,590 students received tuition payments; 13,001 students received TOPS Performance stipend ($400 annual stipend); and 10,758 students received TOPS Honors stipend ($800 annual stipend).

Data from he Southern Regional Education Board shows 61 percent of TOPS recipients complete a baccalaureate degree within 150 percent of time, compared with 33 percent of non-TOPS students who do so within the same time frame.

Those seeking more information on the change in TOPS funding for the spring semester can browse frequently asked questions by clicking here.

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