After the decision to immediately suspend TOPS payments was made Thursday, the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) has decided to resume partial payments of the scholarship.
In its Feb. 12th press release, LOSFA stated that its appropriation only allowed it to pay 80 percent of the cost. Colleges and universities are expected to absorb the other 20 percent.
The release stated that the decision to resume partial TOPS payments was made after LOSFA received clarification that the $28 million cut to the scholarship’s funding would be absorbed by individual colleges and universities.
Gus Wales, LOSFA director of public information and communications, explained that students would not be charged for the $28 million shortage.
The decision to continue the TOPS payments comes as a relief to LSU mass communication student, Kendra Davis.
“I was just really fearful when JBE announced the cuts, because TOPS is what pays my tuition. Without it I wouldn’t be able to afford LSU,” said Davis. “I am definitely glad it’s reinstated because I know I still have a future at LSU.”
There are currently 52,788 students on TOPS statewide.
The initial decision to cut TOPS payments was made amid concerns of possible budget cuts. Louisiana is currently facing its largest budget deficit in its history. The state has over a $940 million budget deficit. Next fiscal year’s budget deficit is being projected to be $2 billion.
In his televised address, Gov. John Bel Edwards attributed the state’s financial woes to the Jindal administration.
“For seven years in a row, the state has had growing budget deficits. Year after year, the previous administration made temporary fixes using one-time funds to patch recurring expenses, knowing that eventually the well would run dry,” said Gov. Edwards.
As for the TOPS program, the impact to its funding for the 2015-2016 academic year will be determined by what happens in the upcoming special legislative session.