The bill to ensure that all TOPS students get at least part of their scholarship award is moving closer to final legislative passage. The legislation would go into effect in the case the legislature is not able to fully fund the popular scholarship program. Currently, 51,000 students receive TOPS.

Hammond Representative Chris Broadwater says without this bill 13,000 students could lose their scholarships because of funding issues, which would be bad for the state’s economy.

“If you want to dry up development and expansion of business in the state of Louisiana, that’s a great way to do it,” Broadwater said.

Broadwater says this bill is needed to make sure that all TOPS students have the opportunity to go to college. He says this could keep more Louisiana students in the state.

“You provide every one of those individuals the hope of completing that college education and fulfilling one of those great jobs we have here in Louisiana and keeping our children at home,” Broadwater said.

Under current law, if TOPS is underfunded, students with the lowest GPA and ACT scores would be dropped from the program. Broadwater says a better route is if lawmakers decreased the amount of each award, instead of taking the entire award away from some students.

“Instead of eliminating the hope of 13,000 individuals, you provide the roughly 51,000 individuals who are on TOPS and say we will pay 75% of your tuition this year,” Broadwater said.

The measure passed the House and now heads back to the Senate so changes made to the bill can be approved.