BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's education department says a record number of public high school graduates have reached the benchmarks required to get taxpayer-financed college tuition through the TOPS program.

More than 19,200 students who graduated in 2017 were eligible for a TOPS award, up from nearly 18,400 a year earlier. Fifty-two percent of last year's graduating class qualified for TOPS, the first class in state history to have more than half its graduates reach that standard.

The education department Tuesday cited data from the Board of Regents.

TOPS covers tuition at a four-year school for any high school graduate who reaches a 2.5 grade-point average and 20 ACT college entrance exam score. Higher-performing students get additional stipends, while other students who reach lower benchmarks get aid to attend community and technical colleges.