About 90 percent of students who have qualified for scholarships through TOPS since 2005 have accepted them and enrolled in Louisiana colleges and universities.
A new report that has identified the 90 percent retention figure and other program stats likely will be used to help back up the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, which was created, at least in part, to help the state retain its high-achieving high schoolers.
“I think we are seeing good news,” Claire Norris, a senior policy analyst for the state Board of Regents, told the board Wednesday.
The report will be submitted to the state Legislature for review.
Board of Regents members said little about its findings, aside from noting the positives.
The report, which analyzes 10 years of data on the popular program, backs up previous findings that the awards have gone disproportionately to white students and often to those from wealthier families.
But higher education leaders say that’s not unique here.
“This trend is similar to most large state-based merit programs,” Norris said.
Nearly 133,000 students received TOPS scholarships from 2005 to 2014, according to the report.
About 79 percent of them were white, and 58 percent of recipients were female.
Their academics have out-paced the minimum requirements for the program: averaging a 24 on the ACT, or four points higher than required, and 3.25 grade-point average.
A concern for state lawmakers in recent years, costs for operating the program have drastically ballooned in the past decade. TOPS has gone from about $117 million in 2005 to $213.6 million in 2014, while the annual number of students benefiting has gone from 42,539 to just 47,015.
Norris noted the biggest impact on the program’s cost has been tuition hikes.