La. lawmaker shelves bill toughening TOPS GPA requirements

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A House lawmaker has tabled a bill boosting GPA requirements for TOPS.

Rep. Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, asked a Senate panel to voluntarily defer the measure, saying that it was facing push back in the upper chamber and from the governor's office.

The amended version of HB 117 would have increased the GPA requirement to qualify for the TOPS Opportunity award from 2.5 to 2.75, starting with the high school graduating class of 2020 - '21.

The GPA boost would have meant more than 1,800 students would no longer qualify for the lower-end TOPS award, according to the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA). Those students would still qualify for the TOPS Tech Award, which still would have a GPA requirement of 2.5.

Those in opposition included James Callier, the executive director of the Taylor Foundation. A few weeks ago, he told the House Education committee the bill could negatively impact a certain group of students.

"It would greatly impair the low income and minority students because they are at the bottom. They would be eliminated to a large extent," Callier said.

Foil said he introduced the bill hoping to stabilize the scholarship program, which is currently underfunded for the first time. Originally it would have boosted the GPA requirement to a 3.0, but the measure was later amended in House committee.

RELATED: Lawmakers propose tougher standards for TOPS 

Foil has asked to be part of a proposed task force to study how to best modify and improve the TOPS program.

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