In A Flash

TOPS recipients could soon keep family income private

By: - June 5, 2022 2:36 pm

The LSU Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to remove Troy Middleton’s name from the university’s main library, citing his refusal to honor Black citizens’ constitutional rights. (Photo by Julie O’Donoghue)

Louisiana might soon remove the requirement that recipients of the state’s popular merit-based college scholarship provide information on their family income.

The proposal to keep income private in the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) was included in Senate Bill 81, authored by Sen. Bodi White, R-Baton Rouge. It passed unanimously in the Louisiana House of Representatives Friday after clearing the Senate last month.

About 58,000 students took advantage of TOPS to cover part of all of their tuition during the 2020-2021 academic calendar. 

About 15,000 high school graduates were awarded TOPS grants, according to an annual report presented to the Louisiana Board of Regents in 2021. Of those recipients, 6,567 students – around 40% – came from households with incomes of $100,000 or more. That’s more than twice Louisiana’s annual median income of $49,000. 

Board of Regents members said it was “very troubling and disappointing” to find out TOPS paid college tuition for more than 11,000 Louisiana students whose families reported an income of $1 million or more over the past 10 years.

In 2020, the state spent more than $320 million on TOPS. 

Louisiana also offers GO Grants, a needs-based program that offers a much lower rate of assistance and is funded with roughly $40 million annually, well short of the money needed to meet demand for the assistance, said Jan Moller, executive director of the non-partisan Louisiana Budget Project.

The bill moves to the governor’s desk.

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is a former Louisiana Illuminator reporter. Prior to working with the Illuminator, Canicosa worked for Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon. Canicosa earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.