Bill rejected that would have shielded TOPS recipients from tuition hikes
Baton Rouge Rep. Barry Ivey’s creative plan to give universities and colleges more tuition-raising authority, while shielding TOPS recipients from the hikes, fell flat on Tuesday in the Louisiana House.
Ivey’s House Bill 439 would have allowed higher education governing boards, like the LSU and Southern University boards of supervisors, to increase tuition for schools by a limited amount — not more than 10 percent in one year or 20 percent over four years. This is one of a few bills the Legislature has or will consider that gives tuition autonomy to the education boards instead of the Legislature, which currently controls tuition rates.
But Ivey’s bill had an unpopular provision that protected students who receive the state-funded Taylor Opportunity Program for Students scholarship from any tuition increases.
Currently, TOPS awards are linked to tuition rates, so if tuition at a school increases, so does the level of the award so students don’t have to pay any of their tuition. It has a corresponding impact on the state budget, which funds the expensive scholarship program.