Graduating seniors in the class of 2016 will not be impacted by the Louisiana TOPS suspension at Dillard University, according to University Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships Denise Spellman.
Louisiana’s Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) is a state-funded, merit-based scholarship program for Louisiana residents that covers tuition and certain fees at any Louisiana College or University.
On February 11, the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) suspended TOPS payments to post-secondary institutions as a precaution for possible budget cuts. Only 80 percent of the allocated funds will be distributed for the spring 2016 semester, and it is up to universities to cover the remaining 20 percent. As of right now Dillard has only received 43 percent of their allocated funds and are waiting for the remaining 37 percent said Spellman.
This $300 million a year program has approximately $110 million in proposed funding for the 2016-2017 academic school year according to an update released by LOSFA on April 14. An update on TOPS-related legislation was released April 15.
In order to accommodate the needs of TOPS recipients at Dillard Spellman says holds have been lifted from student accounts to allow students to register for future courses and receive transcripts if necessary.
“For many students, they depend on TOPS to continue their dream of attending an HBCU and we are working diligently to find funding to make that possible,” said Spellman. Until then, Spellman highly encourages all students to be sure to complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the upcoming academic year and always remain on the lookout for outside scholarships.