Forum held at McNeese to discuss the future of higher education - FOX29 Lake Charles

Forum held at McNeese to discuss the future of higher education in state

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(Source: Raycom) (Source: Raycom)

The TOPS scholarship program, which provides tuition money for Louisiana's brightest students, is once again short on cash. 

Next year, college students eligible for TOPS will have to pay 30-percent of their tuition, in addition to other expenses, unless more funding is added to the TOPS program.

A  town hall forum was held at McNeese on Thursday to discuss the status of TOPS, as well as other issues related to higher education. One the speakers, Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, said funding TOPS becomes more difficult each year because college enrollment and tuition continue to rise.

"The problem is that when TOPS was first initiated, we were at $28-30 million a year for the entire TOPS program. If we fully funded it now, we'd be well over $300 million a year," he said.

Johns added that some states, like Georgia, have raised requirements students must meet in order to be eligible for a state scholarship, but Louisiana hasn't considered that option yet.

Gov. John Bel Edwards and Louisiana lawmakers will have the chance to generate more money for TOPS in their next legislative session which beings April 10.

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