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Gov. Edwards' latest proclamation provides relief for TOPS students

Posted at 1:36 PM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-03 14:36:32-04

The latest emergency proclamation issued by Gov. John Bel Edwards helps to ensure that high school seniors and current post-secondary students are still able to meet and keep eligibility requirements for the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarship.

The TOPS program provides a portion of tuition for students enrolled at an eligible Louisiana institution.

According to a release from the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance, the TOPS Award provides assistance to more than 54,000 Louisiana students each year.

LOSFA says the governor’s latest proclamation takes decisive action aimed at addressing concerns students and families have about their ability to qualify for and maintain the award.

Prior to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), 2020 graduates would have needed at least a 20 on their ACT by April, and a Core Curriculum GPA of at least a 2.50 to qualify for the Opportunity award, the release states.

According to the governor’s order, the April ACT deadline is now suspended. Students will now have until Sept. 30 to receive a qualifying score, without penalty. However, students must still earn a qualifying ACT score and meet the TOPS Core Curriculum GPA requirement.

The governor's order also suspends the requirement that a home study student must have begun a Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved home study program no later than the end of their 10th grade year.

Education officials say this would allow students to begin home study at any time during their junior or senior year, a change necessary given the statewide move to remote learning.

In addition, the order also addresses concerns of JumpStart students who were unable to complete nine JumpStart credits due to cancellation of courses. The order waives this requirement if a student’s school waives the requirement for graduation purposes.

For post-secondary students, the proclamation suspends the continuing eligibility requirements by suspending continuous enrollment, academic year earned hours, and GPA requirements for the 2019-2020 academic year. This applies to:

  1. students who were enrolled full-time as of the 14th class day and who were enrolled as of the March 13th declaration of emergency,
  2. students who were studying abroad and had to return home due to the COVID-19 outbreak where they were studying, and
  3. students who were scheduled to be enrolled full-time in the spring quarter at Louisiana Tech University.

The governor's order also suspends the deadline that requires a student to achieve a specified GPA to have his award reinstated after a suspension for not meeting the cumulative grade point average requirement.

For example, LOSFA says, if a student's award is suspended for not making a 2.50, the student would typically have two years to increase their GPA. However, the suspension of this requirement for the spring semester of 2020 would allow students to have until this fall to boost their GPA.

According to LOSFA, a “P” grade (using a pass/fail grading scale) will count as a completed course for the academic year, but it will not impact a student’s cumulative GPA. As a result, a ”P” grade will not help a student to come off suspension. If a student receives an “F” in a course graded on a pass/fail basis, the “F” will have a negative impact on the student’s cumulative GPA.

You can read how the governor's latest proclamation affects the state's education system under Sections 6 & 7 below: