TOPS payments stalled because of Louisiana budget uncertainty

BATON ROUGE -- Payments to Louisiana's colleges from the TOPS free college tuition program have been put on hold, because of uncertainties about the state's budget.

The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance notified campuses Thursday that it was temporarily suspending TOPS payments.

TOPS provides free tuition to students who meet certain academic benchmarks. Campuses submit tuition bills to the student financial assistance office for reimbursement.

But Sujuan Boutté, executive director of the agency, says the office decided those reimbursement payments should be stalled for now, because of the possibility TOPS could be hit with budget cuts.

Louisiana has a budget gap of at least $850 million that must be closed by June 30. Gov. John Bel Edwards has called a special session that begins Sunday to decide how to rebalance the budget.