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This item originally appeared in the January 27, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.

By ERIN HOPKINS

Staff Writer

As the time for advising and registration approaches, students need to be aware of the requirements to retain their payment from the Tuition Opportunity Program for Students.

Roger Vick, the director of student financial aid, said the students need to remember two key things about TOPS.

"Recipients of TOPS should review the number of hours they have completed and their current cumulative GPA and then adjust their schedules for spring quarter accordingly, as well as their GPA," Vick said.

Vick said TOPS recipients can be awarded one of three scholarships based on their qualifications.

The scholarships are Opportunity, Performance or Honors Awards and students need to meet certain requirements according to which award they have received.

Vick said to retain the Opportunity Award, students must reach a certain GPA by the end of their first year at the university.

"The Opportunity Award requires the student to have a 2.3 cumulative GPA at the end of their first academic year and a 2.5 at the end of their second academic year, then maintain that GPA for the rest of college," Vick said.

Vick said a higher cumulative GPA is needed for the other two awards.

"The Performance and Honors award requires the student to have a 3.0 at the end of their first academic year and maintain that through the rest of their time at Tech," Vick said.

Vick also said all students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better by the end of fall and winter quarters.

Other than being aware of their cumulative GPA, students also need to pay attention to the credit hours they have enrolled in and have earned.

"If the students keep full-time status until after the tenth day of class and then drop below full time, the student still keeps TOPS payment for that quarter," Vick said.

"If they withdraw from the class before that tenth day, they lose TOPS."

Vick said the other area students must also be aware of the credit hours earned. Students must have earned at least 24 credit hours by the end of the academic year to keep TOPS.

Loretta Dennig, scholarship coordinator, said one of the two ways students can lose TOPS permanently is a lack by hours.

The students have up to two years to regain their required GPA while attending school as a full-time student.

"Students are put on suspension [if] they do not make the GPA," Dennig said.

"Students will start receiving payment when they return to the required GPA."

Dennig said TOPS is the largest scholarship the university offers.

"Nothing equals the amount that the TOPS scholarship awards," Dennig said. "There are some students that if it weren't for TOPS, they wouldn't be at Tech right now."

Kala Heard, a freshman biology major, said this is a good way to award students.

"It is important for students to be rewarded for their hard work, they deserve the scholarship," Heard said.

Dennig said students should call the financial aid office at 257-2641 if they have any questions regarding TOPS.

Students can also call the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance, who administers the award, at 1-800-259-5627, extension 1012.


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