If they study hard, make decent grades and a respectable score on the ACT, Louisiana high school students may one day qualify for the TOPS Scholarship Powered by ExxonMobil. Or something like that. The staff of the state Board of Regents offered naming rights as one idea to keep the cash-strapped TOPS program afloat at a meeting Monday.
Louisiana’s financial support for higher education has plummeted over the last several years, dropping from nearly 70 percent six years ago to less than 30 percent today. Public universities have responded by raising tuition to cover the shortfall. In-state tuition at Louisiana public universities has risen a whopping 59 percent over the last five years, well more than double any other state. As a result, the popular Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, TOPS for short, has seen a resulting strain in its ability to cover tuition for students who met the benchmarks.
So naming rights are on the table. What’s certain is that TOPS will be scaled back as the state continues to grapple with budget woes.
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