Gov. Edwards proclamation changes some TOPS eligibility requirements

Gov. Edwards proclamation changes some TOPS eligibility requirements
Students walking on LSU's campus. (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed a proclamation to make changes to the eligibility requirements for TOPS.

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

Prior to 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 TOPS but the April ACT exam was canceled due to COVID-19.

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The order also suspends the requirement that a home study student must have begun a BESE approved home study program no later than the end of their 10th grade year. This would allow students to begin home study at any time during their junior or senior year.

The order also addresses concerns of JumpStart students who were unable to complete nine JumpStart credits due to the 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 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, 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. Note that 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.

The state’s merit-based scholarship provides a portion of tuition for students enrolled at an eligible Louisiana institution.

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