Despite talk of budget cuts to public colleges and TOPS, a record 23,000 students have applied for entry at LSU for the academic year that starts in August. The school’s chief enrollment officer, Jose Aviles, says they hope for an incoming freshman class of 5,800, but TOPS funding is a factor.

"Nothing is set until they put the deposit down and say 'yes I'm in fact attending LSU," Aviles said. "There's a lot of phone calls coming into our office about the uncertainty about TOPS, so we are concerned about that for sure."
Aviles says it’s impressive LSU has so many applicants, especially considering there are fewer high school graduates. On Friday, the LSU Board of Supervisors approved three scholarships to help students choose LSU. Aviles says thousands of dollars are available to students who qualify for these scholarships.

"If we are declining in the number of students who are graduating from high school and they are only going to choose one place, it's not going to be us."

The Innovation Award would give Louisiana freshman up to 3-thousand dollars. The Tiger Excellence Award is for nonresident students who have ACT scores of 28 or 29 and then there’s the Transformation Merit Scholarship. Aviles says that’s for students who have a 26 or 27 ACT and those are students most universities are trying to attract.

"It is important for us as an institution to understand that the investment in merit monies is solely to compete for the students we want most."
The merit scholarships are paid for by money from the school's general budget.