Tuition Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) Bulletin
DATE ISSUED: July 11, 2001

Louisiana High School Principals and Counselors, City and Parish School Board Presidents, School Board Superintendents, College and University, Technical College and LAICU Chancellors, Financial Aid Offices, Business Offices, and Auditors, System Governance, Board of Regents, Department of Education, Louisiana Legislators, and Commission Members


Changes Made to TOPS During the Regular Session 2001 of the Louisiana 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.

As of July 9, 2001, Governor Foster has signed the following legislation which affects the Tuition Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS):

• Act 1042 -- Prohibits restrictions on early high school graduates. Students who graduate from high school in less than four years will be considered for TOPS in the year they actually graduated effective beginning with the graduates of 2001. TOPS Bulletin T2000-06, dated April 18, 2001 details rule changes which preceded this legislation.

• Act 1053 -- Allows high schools to waive required courses in the core curriculum if the courses were not available to students at that school, through 2002-2003.*

• Act 1192 -- Provides eligibility for TOPS Opportunity and TOPS-Tech Awards to dependent students who graduate from a high school outside the United States if the school is accredited by an accrediting organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and meets BESE standards for Louisiana nonpublic high schools or if the student completes the twelfth grade level of an approved home study program outside the U.S. Determination of eligibility for these students will be based on scoring three points higher on the ACT than the minimum required by law. Louisiana residency will be determined by the current test or demonstrated by residence in Louisiana for at least 24 months prior to leaving the U.S. and remaining a resident through the student's graduation or completion of a BESE approved home study program. Effective beginning with 2001 high school graduates.

• Act 1202 -- Requires the Board of Regents to develop a TOPS information reporting system which all public postsecondary institutions must utilize by 2002-2003. Also requires that BESE adopt and implement a policy that ensures that students and their parents (or the responsible party) are informed about the availability and requirements of TOPS prior to entering high school.

• Act 1144 -- Establishes new criteria for a TOPS-Tech Award. Lowers the minimum ACT composite score from 19 to 17 and establishes multiple options in the tech core curriculum. Also establishes a new formula for determining tuition that may be paid for TOPS Tech Awards at schools that offer baccalaureate degrees. Effective beginning with 2001 high school graduates.*

• Act 1221 - Creation of an alternate TOPS Performance Award based on an ACT composite score of 24 or higher, completion of ten honors courses (designated by the school) which are graded on a 5.0 basis, and a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average when converted. Students must also meet all other requirements, i.e., core curriculum, meeting all application deadlines and residency requirements. Effective beginning with the 2001 high school graduates.*

Rules implementing these legislative acts will be promulgated at the August 2, 2001 meeting of the Louisiana Student Financial Assistance Commission and, upon their approval, will be released in an upcoming bulletin.

*Detailed information and instructions will be forwarded to high schools in the next few weeks for certification of 2001 graduates who are affected by Acts 1053, 1144, and 1221.