The House Education Committee advances a bill to increase the minimum GPA requirement for TOPS from 2.5 to 2.75. Baton Rouge Representative Franklin Foil authored the measure. He says he’s hearing a lot of frustration from voters about the uncertainty of the scholarship program.

“I was looking for a possible solution to help keep the program intact, and because I don’t believe we should change the rules on the kids in school, it’s got a four year window,” Foil said.

Foil says this legislation would save the state at least 12-million dollars a year, because fewer students would be eligible. The measure would not take effect until the Class of 2021. President of the Council for a Better Louisiana, Barry Irwin says something has to be done to stabilize the program because a lot has changed in higher ed since TOPS’ inception.

“Tuition has gone up, state support has gone down, we now have a robust community college system that we did not have at the time. So the whole world in higher education to a large degree has changed over that period of time,” Callier said.

But Executive Director of the Taylor Foundation, James Callier opposes the measure. He says the GPA requirement only applies to the core curriculum, and Louisiana has one of the toughest core curriculums in the nation. He says raising that requirement would exclude needy students from the program.

“It would greatly impair the low income and minority students because they’re at the bottom. They would be eliminated to a large extent. We’ve talked about 1,300 students, that’s for one year,” Callier said.

The bill passed on a 9 to 3 vote and heads to the House floor.