A bill that would allow students who get an undergraduate degree out of state to use Louisiana’s popular scholarship program for graduate work here passed the House Education Committee on a 13-2 vote.

The measure, House Bill 612, next faces action on the House floor.

It may also be reviewed by the House Appropriations Committee.

The aid, which is called TOPS, was initially aimed at keeping top students in Louisiana by offering scholarships to finance tuition and, in some cases, other costs.

HB612, by state Rep. Hunter Greene, R-Baton Rouge, would extend that aid to graduate studies in Louisiana for students who qualified for TOPS after high school.

Greene said he hopes the move lures top-flight students, and especially those pursuing medical degrees, to return to Louisiana, where he said they may well remain after college.