Legislators debate TOPS payback requirement

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Lawmakers discussed a bill Monday morning dealing with TOPS.

The House Appropriations Committee debated a bill that would have required any student that had a TOPS award to pay it back if they did not pass at least 12 hours per semester during their first two years of college.

Proponents said the bill is good for the budget. Opponents, however, said it puts too much pressure on the students.

"And if we're going to make them pay back TOPS scholarships, what about the two-thirds of the money the state pays to the students to enroll in school," said James Collier with the TOPS Foundation. "TOPS covers one-third of the cost of education. The state pays the two-thirds. Are we going to make them pay that back? Do we make any student that doesn't graduate from college pay it back? We have to look at what we're doing. There's no other state in the country that does anything like this."

The bill's author agreed to amend the measure and turn it into a "study" resolution after hearing from the panel. He said he will return that bill next session.

Copyright 2010 WAFB. All rights reserved.