Louisiana's free college tuition program called TOPS carries a hefty price tag in a state budget that has been throttled with cuts.
It is expected to cost $218 million next year and is on track to grow to an estimated $340 million within five years.
Lawmakers repeatedly say they're worried the state can't afford the program's expected price escalation. Higher education leaders say the program is unsustainable on its current path. And several study panels have suggested TOPS must be tweaked to survive.
Yet, the legislative session wrapped up this month with the sole attempt to rein in TOPS snuffed out with one debate, as lawmakers were leery to make changes to a subsidy that is widely popular and strongly supported by middle-class voters.