Governor John Bel Edwards signed on Friday Proclamation Number 41 JBE 2020 ensuring high school seniors and current post-secondary students are able to meet the eligibility requirements for the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS).
The proclamation addresses concerns student and families have about their ability to qualify and maintain TOPS amid the COVID-19 pandemic. TOPS provides a portion of tuition for students who are Louisiana residents and attend eligible Louisiana higher education institutions. TOPS provides assistance to over 54,000 Louisiana students each year.
“I am grateful to Governor John Bel Edwards for promoting continued learning while focusing on removing obstacles for our students,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed. “This proclamation eliminates many TOPS barriers that students were encountering as a result of COVID-19 cancellations. Parents, students, teachers and counselors can rest assured that we are focused on making sure learning continues and progress towards graduation is achieved.”
Before the spread of COVID-19, 2020 graduates would have needed at least a 20 ACT score by April, and a Core Curriculum GPA of 2.50 or higher to qualify for TOPS. The cancellation of the April ACT exam due to COVID-19 caused growing concern, so the Governor’s order suspends the April ACT deadline. Students will now have until September 30th to achieve the needed 20 ACT score, without penalty. The order also suspends the deadline that requires a student to achieve a certain GPA to have the award reinstated after a suspension for not meeting the cumulative GPA requirement.
According to the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA), the order also suspends the requirement that a home study student must have begun a Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved home study program no later than the end of their 10th grade year. This would allow students to begin home study at any time during their junior or senior year.
“We applaud Governor Edwards and Commissioner Kim Hunter Reed at the Louisiana Board of Regents for recognizing the stressful situation that many students are facing and providing a way for these students to continue their education without worrying about qualifying for TOPS,” said Dr. Sujuan Boutte, Executive Director at the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance.