Louisiana House moves towards tightening belt on TOPS requirements

Local News

Students hoping to get and keep awards from Louisiana’s long-running TOPS tuition aid program would meet stricter guidelines, under bills advanced by the House Education Committee.

House Bill 413 from Rep. Barry Ivey (R-Central) would raise the eligibility requirements for the TOPS Opportunity award, effective this fall. Students must currently have an ACT score of 20 and a grade-point average of 2.5. Those standards would increase to 21 ACT score and a 2.75 GPA.

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The second measure would refine the minimum GPA required to keep receiving TOPS funds. Students who complete 24 credit hours would need to acquire a 2.5 GPA, rather than the current 2.3 standards, under House Bill 414.

Students who complete 48 credit hours would need to retain a 2.75 GPA, up from a 2.5 average.

The legislation would save the tuition aid program $2.9 million in 2020, then some $14 million every following year, fiscal estimates project. The education panel advanced the bill with an 8-5 vote.

With another 8-5 vote, the committee also passed a bill that would require students to repay all of their TOPS awards if they drop out or fail to maintain their grades in college, effective this year.

Roughly 52,000 students receive TOPS funds each year. Another 5,200 lose their awards in that time, the Legislative Fiscal Office estimates.

Students would be exempt from the proposed law in the event of a disability, substance abuse, military service or death of a family member.

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