TOPS Academic Year Credit Hour Requirement
STUDENT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE COMMISSION
TOPS BULLETIN NUMBER:
|December 17, 1999|
|DISTRIBUTION:||Louisiana Colleges and Universities, Louisiana Technical Colleges, Board of Regents, Department of Education and Louisiana Officials|
|TOPIC:||TOPS Academic Year Credit Hour Requirement|
To assure that your Scholarship and Grant Policy and Procedure Manual remains current, please record this document on your TOPS Bulletin index and retain it with your manual.
On December 14th, 1999 the Ad Hoc Rules Committee of the Louisiana Financial Assistance Commission made the recommendation to the Commission to revise sections 301 (definitions), 705 (TOPS Opportunity, Performance and Honors), 805 (Tops Tech) and 907 (Tops Teacher) to provide for the following uniform policies on academic hours required for maintaining awards:
That hours earned in summer or intersession and advanced
placement course credits may not be used to meet the academic
year credit hour requirement;
That credit hours earned from the completion of remedial courses
required by the institution may be used to meet the academic
year credit hour requirement; and,
That the school’s academic performance report on award recipients
which is required by the agency to determine the recipient’s
eligibility for continuation of their TOPS award shall contain the
grades and hours earned which are recorded on the recipient’s
official transcript in accordance with the school’s published policies
(and reported to LOSFA on a term basis).
The Commission approved the recommendation and a notice of intent and declaration of emergency rules has been promulgated.
On December 7, an informal meeting of school administrators was called to address the disparate treatment of TOPS recipients resulting from the application of school policies relating to the crediting of hours for remedial and repeated courses and CLEP, advanced placement and transfer credits. In interpreting legislative intent, the staff opined that repeated courses, CLEP and advanced placement credits should not be considered as "earned" for the purpose of meeting the standards required for continuation of a TOPS award. This interpretation, as it relates to CLEP and advanced placement credits, was found to be consistent with the policy applied by most schools. Institutional representatives reported that courses which are not actually attempted in the Fall and Spring semesters are not shown on transcripts as "earned" during the "academic year". However, the consensus drawn from the meeting was that uniform
policy for excluding hours earned by repeating courses was not administratively practical, given the variety of policies and procedures existing between institutions.
The institutional representatives participating in the meeting recommended that the Commission accept what is reported by schools for hours earned and grade point average, with the stipulation that hours be reported by term and then totaled by the agency at the end of the academic year to determine whether the 24 hour requirement has been met. Hours removed retroactively from prior terms will not be reported to the agency. Participants acknowledged that their institutions have a joint responsibility with the Commission to inform award recipients of how school policies for reporting grades and hours earned will effect their continuing eligibility.
Remedial courses are those which schools require a student to complete; however, several schools do not give academic credit for these courses and they are not reflected on the transcript as hours earned during a semester. Because the courses are mandated by the school, the Commission has established precedent by approving student appeals which permitted these hours to be credited toward the 24 hour requirement. Students attending schools which do not count these courses as earned hours may appeal to the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance.