Student Financial Aid Bulletin
DATE ISSUED: June 2, 2003

Louisiana High School Principals and Counselors, City and Parish School Board Presidents, School Board Superintendents, College, University, and LAICU Chancellors, Financial Aid Offices, Business Offices, Registrars and Auditors, Technical College Campus Deans and Student Personnel Services Officers, System Governance, Board of Regents, Department of Education, Louisiana Officials, Louisiana Legislators, and Commission Members, Loan Program Lenders and Schools


Student Aid Related Legislative Activity in the 2003 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature

To assure that your Rules remain current, please record this document on your Bulletin index and retain it with your manual.

The 2003 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature convened on March 31, 2003 and is scheduled to adjourn on June 23, 2003. Those who wish to monitor the session may access their website at www.legis.state.la.us. At its up-coming meetings, the Student Financial Assistance Commission (LASFAC, the Commission) will revise its Scholarship and Grant rules to incorporate all statutory changes enacted by our Legislature this session:

Governor Foster has signed the following Acts of the Legislature into law:

Act 63 (SB 46) authored by Senator McPherson - TOPS - Signed May 28, 2003. Permits, subject to certain limitations, subsequent use of TOPS awards at eligible Louisiana institutions by otherwise qualified students who attended out-of-state colleges or universities. The Commission requested this change. Students must have been determined to meet initial TOPS eligibility requirements, must have enrolled in school in accordance with specified guidelines for TOPS, must continue to meet TOPS continuation requirements at the out-of-state institution, and must have graduated from high school during the 2001-2002 school year or thereafter. The award for eligible students will be reduced by the number of semesters attended at an out-of-state school.

Act 81 (HB 98) authored by Representative John Smith - TOPS - Signed May 28, 2003. Extends the time for military personnel to declare Louisiana their state of legal residence from 60 days after reporting to 180 days after reporting for duty. The Student Financial Assistance Commission requested this change. An amendment to this bill directs the Commission to adopt rules to provide for part-time enrollment while on active duty. The Commission did adopt an emergency rule on April 29, 2003 to provide that students who are granted an exception based on military service and who desire to enroll part-time in an eligible school while on active duty may request TOPS payment, but that such payment for part-time attendance will accrue and count toward the student's maximum TOPS eligibility (see TOPS bulletin T2003-4).

The following bills have been passed finally by the House and the Senate and await action by Governor Foster:

SB 364 authored by Senator Theunisson - TOPS - Allows a student who attended an eligible high school for the last two academic years prior to graduation to meet an alternative residency test and revises citizenship requirements for students who graduate high school during the 2002-2003 school year and thereafter to provide that a student who is a permanent resident as defined by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship will satisfy the citizenship requirement for TOPS. The Commission requested these changes.

SB 459 authored by Senator Cain - TOPS - Provides for the eligibility of the dependent child of a military member who is not and does not become a state resident but who resides in the state under permanent change of station orders and provides that the student meets the residency requirement if he or she resides in and attends a Louisiana high school for all of his or her junior and senior years.

SB 471 authored by Senator Hoyt - START - Provides for administration of and participation in the Student Tuition Assistance and Revenue Trust (START) College Savings Plan. Adds a new category of account owner to provide a higher state match for deposits by philanthropists on behalf of needy students. Provides that an account must be open 12 months or more to earn interest, that accounts established by juridical persons may not be refunded but a new beneficiary may be designated, and provides for the presumption of abandoned property if unclaimed during a set amount of time.

The following bills affecting programs administered by LOSFA are still under consideration and await further action by the House and/or the Senate:

HB 259 authored by Representative Winston - TOPS - Repeals various student financial assistance programs, provides for the continuation of certain tuition payments, and deletes provisions relative to the review of certain applications

HB 347 authored by Representative G. Smith - TOPS - Permits certain students under specified circumstances to receive TOPS Opportunity, Performance, and Honors award benefits for postgraduate study

HB 439 authored by Representative Martiny - TOPS - Permits certain high school students completing honors or advanced placement courses and having a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00 to qualify for TOPS Performance Awards under specified circumstances. Continues the Alternate Performance Award without a cutoff.

HB 535 authored by Representative Bowler - TOPS - Permits certain students to qualify for a TOPS Opportunity Award based on academic performance while attending an eligible college or university.

HB 549 authored by Representative Futrell - TOPS - Provides that the ACT composite score needed by certain students to be eligible for a TOPS Opportunity Award shall never be less than 20.

HB 575 authored by Representative Crane - TOPS - Provides relative to residency, citizenship, and other initial and continuing eligibility requirements, certain required agency rules, and eligibility for multiple awards and refers to court-ordered custodians rather than legal guardians. (Commission requested.)

HB 644 authored by Representative Crane - TOPS - Provides alternative eligibility requirements for TOPS-Tech and Opportunity awards for certain students receiving La. high school equivalency diplomas. (Commission requested.)

HB 894 authored by Representative Hudson - TOPS - Limits the dollar amount of award benefits to the amount paid for the 2002-2003 award year and provides that starting with 2006-2007 high school graduates, the academic and financial needs based criteria will be established by each college and university for their TOPS students. Same as HB 930.

HB 930 authored by Representative Morrell - TOPS - Limits the dollar amount of award benefits to the amount paid for the 2002-2003 award year and provides that starting with 2006-2007 high school graduates, the academic and financial needs based criteria will be established by each college and university for their TOPS students. Same as HB 894.

HB 1364 authored by Representative Honey - TOPS - Permits students to qualify for a TOPS award based on meeting the continuation requirements for an Opportunity, Performance or Honors Award after the freshman year, starting with 2004 graduates.

HB 1619 authored by Representative Morrish - LOAN PROGRAM - Provides for a guaranteed loan program for certain nursing students and for loan forgiveness in return for service

HB 1657 authored by Representatives Honey, Curtis, Hudson, Morrell and Senator Holden - TOPS - Provides relative to TOPS high school core curriculum requirements for Opportunity, Performance and Honors awards. Starting with the class of 2004, reduce the Fine Arts Survey to ½ unit or a substituted ½ unit, reduces Foreign Language to one unit, and increases Computer courses to 2 units.

HB 1923 authored by Representative Hudson - Teacher Incentive Program - Creates an incentive program to encourage certified, highly qualified teachers to seek employment at failing schools or at rural schools that have not been designated as failing but that have academic deficiencies as defined by BESE and that are located in disadvantaged geographical areas.

HB 1941 authored by Representative Crane - Reorganization - Provides that the Board of Regents will formulate policies relative to student financial assistance which support the goals and objectives of the state's Master Plan for Postsecondary Education and that rulemaking of the Commission is subject to approval by the Board of Regents.

SB 365 authored by Senator Theunisson - Commission Authority - Provides for the development and maintenance of a comprehensive state student aid plan that supports the Master Plan for Public Postsecondary Education. (Commission requested.) Amendment requires approval of the plan by the Board of Regents.

SB 607 authored by Senator Holden - Tuition Program - Establishes a program providing tuition of skill training at public technical colleges for graduates from the La. National Guard's Youth Challenge Program who earn a GED.