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Changes to TOPS awards target workforce training, home-schooled students

Lawmakers advanced proposals Tuesday to end part of Louisiana’s popular state-funded college scholarship program and place other awards within easier reach of home-schooled students.

Legislation is moving forward to end the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) Tech Award, which provides $6,000 per academic year for students to attend the public or for-profit two-year in-state school of their choice.

House Bill 452, by Rep. Vinney St. Blanc, R-Franklin, gained approval Tuesday from the House Committee on Education. It would terminate the TOPS Tech Award in four years. In its place, he wants the state to add money to a needs-based grant program for students to attend two-year schools in Louisiana and pursue training for professions in high demand.

Aerial view of Southern University at New Orleans

Interest has ebbed in the TOPS Tech Award in the past decade, according to St. Blanc. He cited numbers from 2014-2022 that indicate 77% of students eligible for the program turned down the scholarship. Last year, the Tech Award accounted for just over $6.1 million, or 10% of the total money handed out in TOPS assistance. 

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