In 1989, Louisiana businessman Patrick Taylor convinced the Louisiana legislature to fund what would be called the “Taylor Plan”— payment of four years of tuition and fees for Louisiana students to attend college based upon high school GPA and ACT-score eligibility requirements– with initial program eligibility also hinging upon income requirements.
In 2008, the Taylor Plan was renamed the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS).
TOPS is funded via both general fund and tobacco settlement monies. However, the days of a fully-funded TOPS program are limited given that TOPS costs have been rising notably (e.g., 2001: $104 million; 2015: $250 million; by 2020, projected to be over $300 million).
Meanwhile, Louisiana has been facing years of budget crisis. In 2015, the Louisiana legislature voted to put a cap on TOPS funding; even Taylor’s widow agreed to the cap as a means of preserving the program. However, then-governor Bobby Jindal…
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