TOPS Updates
TOPS Updates

Most Current TOPS Information

last updated October 28, 2016

On October 26, 2016, the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) determined the finalized TOPS amounts for the spring 2017 semester.

Spring 2017

  TOPS Opportunity TOPS Performance TOPS Honors
Tuition & Fees* $5,379.00 $5,379.00 $5,379.00
TOPS Award $1,559.76 $1,643.36 $1,726.96
Out-of-Pocket Cost $3,819.24 $3,735.64 $3,652.04

* 12 credit hours

For 2016-17, the Louisiana Legislature reduced the amounts of the TOPS awards to cover less than the amount of tuition.

Important Dates

  • Fee Bills Available for Spring 2017: November 28, 2016
  • Fee Bills Due for Spring 2017: December 8, 2016

Options for Additional Funding and Payment Plans

Complete the FAFSA

If you have not already done so, you should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible.

Complete Required Documents

Be sure to check myLSU to complete all required documents, including verification. Go to my.lsu.edu, select “Financial Services,” then “Financial Aid,” then “Verification Documents.”

Accept Awards

To ensure anticipated aid displays on your fee bill, accept all aid in which you are interested by November 28 when fee bills become available for the spring 2017 semester. Go to my.lsu.edu, select “Financial Services,” then “Financial Aid,” then “Financial Aid & Scholarships.”

Deferred Payment Plan

LSU will waive the $15 service charge for all TOPS eligible students who elect to enroll in LSU’s deferred payment plan. Eligible students are allowed to defer up to half of their current semester charges. Payment of half of the current semester charges plus any account balance must be received by the due date and the remaining balance can be paid in three equal monthly installments.

Contact a Financial Aid Advisor

Our staff is here to assist you in reaching your educational goals. Contact your Financial Aid Counselor to discuss options.

Questions about TOPS

Why was TOPS not fully funded?

Recently, the state of Louisiana faced an unprecedented budget deficit as a result of the decline in oil and gas royalties and other tax revenues. This downturn resulted in a significant shortfall in the state’s projected operating budget for FY 16-17. To further complicate matters, student enrollment in the TOPS program surged, causing disproportionate payout demands to the amount of available funding.

The legislature is bound by the state constitution to deliver a balanced budget. In this legislative session, to do so while salvaging a portion of the TOPS scholarship award for Louisiana students, lawmakers passed a series of tax measures and other bills in an attempt to help control costs and stabilize the budget for future years. This package included a bill to separate (decouple) TOPS payouts from automatic increases in university tuition.

Who controls TOPS?

The state of Louisiana through its state budget controls TOPS and is legally required to budget $65 million per year from the state tobacco trust fund to fund the program. In the past fiscal year, the cost of the program exceeded that amount by more than $200 million for a total cost of over $280 million.

Can I still submit my FAFSA to apply for TOPS and financial aid?

Yes, it is not too late. Please visit www.fafsa.gov to complete the FAFSA.

Why did LSU let TOPS get cut?

Being the largest direct beneficiary of the TOPS program, approximately 60% of all undergraduate students receive TOPS assistance.  LSU does not have any control over the funding level provided for the state’s TOPS program. The state’s legislature and Governor determine the TOPS funding level on an annual basis. Any cut to TOPS has a multiplicative effect on LSU. LSU faculty, students, friends, and alumni worked hard to educate their legislators about the value this program delivers to Louisiana students and its particular impact on LSU. We are grateful to our state leaders for prioritizing funding for both higher education and for TOPS, but at the end of the day, it was the vote of the legislature that dictated the outcomes of the TOPS program.

Why is LSU not covering the TOPS shortfall?

Due to LSU’s high admission and academic standards, LSU has 14,086 TOPS students. There is simply no way for our university to absorb such a massive cost, but we are going to do the best we can to keep our best and brightest students in Louisiana.

What will TOPS look like next year (2017-2018)?

The university is unsure what TOPS will look like next year. What we do know is that the legislature voted to decouple TOPS payouts from tuition. This means that TOPS will no longer cover the full tuition costs at LSU moving forward. There were several other bills presented, including increasing the qualifying ACT requirement and repayment of TOPS if a student fails to complete their coursework, but no other bills directly affecting TOPS passed during the 2016 legislative sessions.

Can I cancel my housing contract in the Spring to cover the shortfall my TOPS award does not cover?

LSU only offers leases for the full academic year. In accordance with the academic year contract, a student leaving housing for the spring semester is responsible for a contract/rent penalty of 75% of lowest priced room offered, $2,238.75. After the 14th class day the spring penalty will be deleted if the student is not registered for classes at LSU. We also have an appeal process for release from the contract without penalty explained in RLOP: 42 Contract Appeals Process (Release without Penalty). The policy states a list of conditions where a release would be granted:

Students leaving for a co-op experience; Off-Campus Academic Program/Exchange students renting student; Students leaving for military reasons; Withdrawal/Resignation from LSU; Students transferring to another institution; Marriage; or Pregnancy.

For any reason outside of those listed above, a student must initiate an appeal for release from the rent penalty if the student believes two scenarios exist: 1) a change in circumstances creating a special need after moving into the assigned space and 2) LSU has no other form of housing that will meet this need. Common examples of appeals include medical and financial reasons.

What do I get from LSU that I can’t get elsewhere?

LSU provides the most comprehensive educational experience in Louisiana. Students who attend the state’s flagship university work next to internationally known faculty who do everything from proving Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to discovering new species to finding new ways to detect and treat cancer — and everything in between. They have access to incredible support mechanisms, such as the university’s Center for Academic Success, which provides individualized study plans and tutoring for every interested LSU student. And the value of an LSU degree only increases with time — our alumni earn above national average starting and mid-career salaries, and go on to incredible careers ranging from Academy Award winning composer and New York Times Best-Selling Author to flight director for NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover and CEO of Fortune 500 companies.