Bill proposes to put cost controls on TOPS tuition program

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Louisiana’s top higher education leaders are rallying behind a proposal to put cost controls on the TOPS free college tuition program, to address concerns about its ballooning price tag.

The legislation is supported by two Senate leaders: Finance Chairman Jack Donahue and Education Chairman Conrad Appel. And it has the critical backing of Phyllis Taylor, wife of the program’s namesake and a fierce TOPS protector.

Donahue’s bill would lock in the TOPS tuition payment rate at the 2015-16 level and require increases in future years to get approval from lawmakers. So, TOPS’ costs wouldn’t rise without a separate vote.

Supporters say that will give lawmakers more financial predictability and ensure TOPS can be sustained long-term for students and their families.

It’s unclear whether Gov. Bobby Jindal will back the concept.

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