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TOPS Bill Moves Past Committee

Posted on May 29, 2010 in Local Issues

The Louisiana House Education Committee approved House Bill 994 with a 6-5 vote. This bill could have widespread ramifications for students who choose to use the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) by changing the scholarship program to a loan forgiveness program that would require students, who did not meet mandatory standards for class load and Grade Point Average, to repay the funds paid for them by TOPS. Currently, to keep TOPS, a student must be enrolled as a full-time student, which means that they must take at least 12 credit hours per semester. The college student must also maintain a 2.5 grade point average out of a 4.0 scale. State Representative Joe Harrison (R-Napoleanville) hailed the legislation as a “student personal responsibility bill” and argued that repayment of the loans would be a “life lesson for the future.” He said, “I don’t understand why we’ve lost the concept of responsibility.” TOPS can offer students upwards of $3500 to pay for tuition costs and fees. The program in total costs the state $130 million per year. The executive director of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, James Caillier, disagrees with the restructuring of the TOPS program because it changes the nature and goodwill of the program. He argued against the bill: “Why should I work hard in high school for a loan?”

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