In view of COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Edwards modifies TOPS eligibility requirements
BATON ROUGE - Governor John Bel Edwards' office released a statement Friday, announcing that he'd signed a proclamation that will make it easier for high school seniors and current post-secondary students to be eligible for a Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarship.
Before the health crisis caused by the spread of novel coronavirus, graduates would have needed at least a 20 on their ACT by April and a GPA of at least a 2.50 to qualify for the scholarship.
So, when the virus pandemic resulted in the cancellation of the April ACT exam, high school seniors interested in TOPS were alarmed.
But with the signing of Proclamation Number 41 JBE 2020, such students are assured of an opportunity for eligiblity.
The order effectively suspends the April ACT deadline and gives students until September 30th to earn a qualifying score, without penalty.
That said, students are still required to earn a qualifying ACT score and meet the GPA requirement.
The 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.
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 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.
TOPS covers a portion of tuition costs for students enrolled at an eligible Louisiana institution and as of April 2020 has provided assistance to over 54,000 Louisiana students annually.
The governor’s proclamation can be viewed in full here.
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