Survey Finds Public Does Not Support Lowering TOPS Award Amount To Save Money
Most Louisianans oppose reducing the amount of the TOPS scholarship award to cut costs, according to a recent survey from LSU. State leaders have proposed several means of making TOPS more affordable, including limiting the amount each student receives. Michael Henderson with the LSU Public Policy Research Lab says 64 percent of respondents are not in favor of that method.
“People’s willingness to see the amount reduced, the public’s never really been a fan of that,” Henderson said.
TOPS is only funded at 70 percent under the governor’s budget proposal for next fiscal year. That means lawmakers will have to find a way to fund the $300 million program, or nearly 50,000 college students will foot part of the bill for their tuition. Henderson says the public is interested in other ways to reduce TOPS spending.
“Another one we asked about was raising academic requirements, which would mean fewer people would get it and therefore costs would be lower, and there’s a majority support for that,” Henderson said.
The survey found 60 percent of respondents support raising the academic requirements for the scholarship, which are currently a 2.5 GPA and a 20 on the ACT. Henderson says while 52 percent of voters do not support limiting the program to only low income families, 56 percent would take TOPS eligibility away from families on the upper end of the income bracket.
“So essentially it would be putting on an income cap that would remove highest earning households from eligibility for TOPS. There is a majority support for that,” Henderson said.