Summary of Amendments to Louisiana's TOPS Scholarship Program Enacted During the 1999 Regular Session of the Legislature
STUDENT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE COMMISSION
TOPS BULLETIN NUMBER:
|July 22, 1999|
|DISTRIBUTION:||Louisiana Legislators, Louisiana High Schools, Louisiana Colleges and Universities, Louisiana Technical Colleges, Board of Regents, Department of Education, and Louisiana Officials|
|TOPIC:||Summary of Amendments to Louisiana's TOPS Scholarship Program Enacted During the 1999 Regular Session of the Legislature|
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.
The amendments which are briefly described below will be implemented by rules promulgated by the Louisiana Student Financial Assistance Commission (LASFAC). The rules, as proposed by LASFAC, will be first published in the Louisiana Register and may be viewed, when available, on the agency’s Internet web site (http://www.osfa.state.la.us).
Requires that applicants for TOPS be U.S. Citizens. Students who are
non-citizens and below the age of majority may qualify for the program
provided they apply for and become citizens within one year following their
Clarifies that a dependent student is a resident of the state in which his
parent or parents are residents.
Clarifies that the dependent children of tax-paying residents on active duty
in the Armed Forces and stationed outside of the state will be eligible for
the program, provided these children graduate from a state approved or
Department of Defense school and meet the alternate academic requirement.
(Note: The alternate academic requirement is an ACT composite score which is
3 points above the state average ACT score).
Permits the dependent children of a nonresident stationed in Louisiana on
active military duty to qualify for TOPS, provided that within 60 days after
reporting for duty the military sponsor changes his personnel records to
show Louisiana as his official home of record and pays Louisiana income
taxes. (Note: The dependent must graduate from an approved Louisiana high
school and meet all academic standards including grades, curriculum and ACT
Requires the qualifying high school grade point average of 2.50 to be
computed on the core curriculum beginning with high school graduates of
Eliminates "academic probation" as the basis for determining
whether an award should be suspended because the student is not making
academic progress and replaces it with a common standard referred to as
"steady academic progress" which will be applicable to students at
all schools and be defined in rule by the administering agency.
Maximizes the opportunity for families to qualify for the federal HOPE and
Lifetime Learning tax credits by re-defining the TOPS award to be "an
amount equal to tuition". (Note: If the award is used to pay tuition,
the family would be ineligible for a tax credit. Existing law permits the
award to be used to pay the "cost of attendance", which includes
room, board, books, and supplies. Families with federal income tax
liabilities whose children are receiving TOPS awards should consult their
tax preparers about eligibility for these federal tax credits).
Prevents the TOPS award from being used to supplant any portion of the
Tulane Legislative Scholarship.
Mandates that non-public high schools be academically approved by the Board
of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and be eligible for state
funded textbooks and transportation in order for their graduates to be
eligible for TOPS, beginning with the graduating class of 2000.
Permits 1998 graduates to qualify if their ACT scores were achieved after
high school graduation but prior to July 1, 1998.
Prevents the disqualification of those 1998 high school graduates whose
parents moved out of state during the student’s senior year, provided that
the parents were residents for at least 2 years before leaving the state.
Amendment: Provides that a student or the student’s parents may elect to defer the TOPS award pending the filing of a federal income tax return and, upon proof that a federal HOPE Tax Credit has been taken by the family, the student would be paid directly the difference between the amount of the federal tax credit and the TOPS award, plus an incentive equal to 25% of the credit taken. Essentially, this provision offsets the amount of any TOPS award by a percentage of any tax credit received.
This notice of changes in the Tuition Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) is provided for information purposes in compliance with L.R.S. 17:3048.1C(3).