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TOPS First-Time/Full-Time Designation

Tuition Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) Bulletin
December 17, 1999
As Indicated
DISTRIBUTION: Louisiana Colleges and Universities, Louisiana Technical Colleges, Board of Regents, Department of Education and Louisiana Officials 
TOPIC: TOPS First-Time/Full-Time Designation

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.

This bulletin is to clarify several issues in regard to First time/Full time designations for billing, term counts and renewal issues.

The TOPS statute requires a student to accept a TOPS award by enrolling as a first-time freshman no later then the first semester immediately following the anniversary of their high school graduation. In the situation where a student enters a postsecondary institution immediately upon high school graduation and subsequently resigns during their initial semester prior to the date the school could have billed for the student’s TOPS award (the 14th class day at a semester school and the 9th class day at a quarter school.) LOSFA will not consider that student "enrolled" for TOPS purposes. The student still has the one year "window" from high school graduation to enroll and claim their award. The school must identify these students as "first time/full time" at the time they bill in the subsequent semester. These students do not have to appeal the continuous enrollment requirement. Their enrollment begins the semester the school bills and receives payment for them.

In the scenario where a school bills and is paid, but the school later approves a retroactive action due to an exceptional or mitigating circumstance which results in a full TOPS refund to LOSFA, the same logic applies. If a full refund is not received by LOSFA, the student will be considered as having accepted the TOPS award and will be required to meet all continuation requirements, to include completing 24 credit hours in each academic year. Students who fail to complete 24 credit hours during the academic year may be entitled to request a waiver in accordance with TOPS rules.

Students choosing to enroll in a postsecondary institution at mid-year (i.e., spring semester, or winter/spring quarters) will not be reviewed relative to the required minimum GPA until after the completion of one full academic year. A student will be required to meet the requirement for "Steady Academic Progress" (cumulative 2.0 GPA). For example, a student enrolling as a first time/full time student in a spring semester will be checked for Steady Academic Progress at the conclusion of the spring, summer (if applicable) and the fall semester. At the end of the following Spring semester, the student must meet the continuation requirement based on the level of the student’s award and the number of hours he/she has completed. In this example, an Opportunity Award student who has enrolled in the minimum 12 hours per semester will have completed 36 hours by the end of his first full academic year. He must have a cumulative 2.3 GPA. If the student has completed over 48 hours by this time, the required cumulative GPA will be 2.5.