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Suspension of TOPS Award for Failure to File FAFSA

Tuition Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) Bulletin
July 22, 1999
As Indicated
DISTRIBUTION: Louisiana Legislators, Louisiana High Schools, Louisiana Colleges and Universities, Louisiana Technical Colleges, Board of Regents, Department of Education, and Louisiana Officials
TOPIC: Suspension of TOPS Award for Failure to File FAFSA 

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.

Institutions are encouraged to assist this agency in assuring that their students are aware of the application requirements for a Tuition Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarship.

Any student submitting an application for state aid after July 1, (the "Final Deadline") will be ineligible for the requested aid. Applications received after the July 1 deadline for the renewal of an award in a subsequent year will not be processed and the student will not be eligible for an award in that year.

To be eligible for TOPS, the rules require that a student file an initial application in the year of high school graduation and, if an award is made to the student, then a renewal application must be filed for every year the student attends school thereafter. The application form is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is used to determine the priority for funding awards in the event of a shortfall in program appropriations and to ensure qualifying applicants benefit from federal grant programs in addition to any state aid. The annual filing of a FAFSA is an integral part of the process of qualifying a TOPS award. If the FAFSA is not filed timely, a student cannot be found eligible for a TOPS award.

The initial application (FAFSA) must be filed no later than July 1 of the academic year in which a student graduates from high school. The high school academic year runs from September through August. After first becoming eligible for a TOPS award, a student must file a renewal FAFSA by July 1 of each calendar year for which the award is to be continued, until the four years (eight semesters) of eligibility expires.

For example: A student graduating in the 1998-1999 high school academic year must submit the FAFSA for Academic Year 1999-2000 in time for it to be received by the Federal Processor by July 1, 1999. For every year thereafter in which renewal of the award is desired, the student must submit the FAFSA specific to that year in time for it to be received by the July 1st deadline. If this same student was awarded in 1998-99 and fails to file the FAFSA for Academic Year 1999-2000, then the award would be suspended for 1999-2000 but could be regained for academic year 2000-2001, provided the FAFSA for Academic Year 2000-2001 is filed by July 1, 2000 and the student has been continuously enrolled in school and maintained the minimum grade point average and credit hours otherwise required for continuation of the award.

Since this year is the first time that TOPS recipients have had to file the FAFSA as a condition for renewal of their awards, the administering agency is considering a policy of leniency by adopting a one-time, 60 day extension of the deadline for filing the FAFSA for the purpose of renewing an award, or until September 1, 1999. Students seeking renewal of their TOPS awards who failed to file the FAFSA by the July 1st deadline should immediately file the FAFSA for Academic Year 1999-2000, in anticipation of the administering agency adopting an extension of the filing deadline.