Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) Eligibility
TOPS scholarships are awarded by the State of Louisiana through the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance in Baton Rouge. We may place TOPS on your financial aid award letter in anticipation of being awarded a TOPS scholarship. An anticipated TOPS award listed on your financial aid award letter is not an official offer. The official offer will come from the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) if you are eligible (see LOSFA Award System for current eligibility status). We estimate the award to prevent making reductions to other awards at a later date since the majority of Louisiana students should qualify. If you know you are not eligible to receive TOPS, please indicate such on your award letter and we will correct our records and your award package. If you are TOPS eligible and anticipate any additional scholarships or financial aid please notify the Financial Aid Office. If additional aid is received at any time during the school year, an adjustment to your original award may be made to prevent an over award.
Overaward: In the event the student’s total aid exceeds his financial need or the cost of attendance, any federal loan aid shall be reduced, then institutional and other aid in accordance with the institutional practice, then State Scholarships and Grants (including TOPS if applicable), shall be reduced by the amount of any remaining overaward.
Important: Students receiving TOPS must be enrolled full-time (as defined by your institution) as of the 15th class day at semester schools or the 10th class day at quarter schools every semester or quarter they enroll (excluding summers) and maintain continuous enrollment. At Louisiana Tech University full-time for Undergraduate students is 8 hours or more; full-time for Graduate students is 6 hours.
For more information about TOPS, see the topics below:
How and When to Apply for TOPS
To apply for TOPS, the student should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The FAFSA must be completed by students who are seeking other forms of financial aid in addition to TOPS. You must file your application so that it is received by the federal processor by July 1st in order to receive TOPS for the academic year immediately following your high school graduation. The student could complete the TOPS On-line Application located at the LOSFA Award System, but only if the student can certify that they do not qualify for federal grant aid. In the event of a budget shortfall, students completing the TOPS On-line Application in lieu of the FAFSA will be the first to lose their TOPS award.
A TOPS payment will not be made until the TOPS application is received, the student is determined eligible for a TOPS award by LOSFA, and an eligible Louisiana college has billed LOSFA for the student’s full-time enrollment.
Payments for a student’s full-time enrollment at a college prior to the date the student was made eligible for TOPS will be made retroactively to the student’s semester, quarter or term of first-time, full-time enrollment. The award will be paid for each subsequent semester, quarter or term that the student met all of the TOPS continuation requirements.
NOTE: Students who file after July 1 following the first anniversary of their high school graduation, but no later than 120 days late, will also be paid beginning with the semester, quarter or term of their first-time, fulltime enrollment; however, their TOPS eligibility will be reduced by one semester if no more than 60 days late or by two semesters if more than 60 days but not more than 120 days late.
For a more detailed explanation please refer to TOPS Rights and Responsibilities visit: http://www.osfa.la.gov/MainSitePDFs/TOPSRR.pdf
TOPS Award Amounts (2018-2019)
TOPS Steady Academic Progress (SAP)
Students who fail to maintain steady academic progress at the end of any quarter shall be suspended from TOPS eligibility. Steady academic progress is defined as maintaining a 2.00 cumulative GPA.
At the end of each Spring Quarter the following cumulative grade point average (GPA) must be maintained:
|Opportunity Award:||2.30 if 24 – 47 hours earned|
|2.50 if 48 + hours earned|
Performance or Honors Award recipients who fail to maintain a 3.00 cumulative GPA at the end of the academic year will revert to the Opportunity Award, provided they have maintained the GPA necessary for renewal at that award level. Once the recipient reverts to the Opportunity Award, the Performance or Honors Award cannot be reinstated.
NOTE: Your TOPS Cumulative GPA is calculated on all coursework you attempted at all schools, including dual enrollment and repeated courses, at the end of each spring semester or quarter based on hours, grades and quality points reported by all schools you have attended, so it may be different from that grade point average calculated by the school you attend.Exceptions cannot be granted for failure to make Steady Academic Progress or to earn the minimum TOPS Cumulative GPA.
TOPS Hours Earned Per Academic Year
All TOPS recipients must maintain continuous full-time enrollment. A student must be enrolled in at least 8 semester credit hours at Louisiana Tech University to be considered as full-time. They must also earn 24 hours of credit each academic year or the number of hours needed to complete their undergraduate degree. Failure to do so will result in cancellation of their TOPS award. The academic year is defined as the Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer quarters. *TOPS does not automatically pay for summer sessions; certain conditions apply.
TOPS Summer Session Payment Request and Acknowledgment Form (will be available in the Spring of 2015-2016)
Students transferring from a semester school to Louisiana Tech University are required to complete 24 hours during the academic year. Thus, a student who attends Fall semester and earns 12 hours at another school would have to enroll in and complete an additional 12 hours in the Spring quarter at Louisiana Tech University to meet the requirements.
Earning 24 credit hours each academic year is the responsibility of the student. If you are taking repeat/delete or correspondence courses, you must consider how your school will record and report these hours. Remedial courses which are required by Louisiana Tech will count toward your 24 hour requirement. Advanced placement credits (CLEP) will not be counted toward your 24 hour requirement and does not result in hours earned.
NOTE: To retain your TOPS eligibility, you must be registered each semester or quarter as a full-time student as of the 15th class day at a semester institution or the 10th class day at a quarter institution. Correspondence courses do not count toward full-time enrollment.
NOTE: If you enrolled as a first-time, full-time student in the middle of the Academic Year (spring semester or winter/spring quarter), you will not be required to meet the 24 hour requirement that year.
NOTE: Credits from Advanced Placement, CLEP, and Credit by Exam are not included in Academic Year Earned Hours. Correspondence courses are only included in hours earned if completed and credit is given during the Academic Year.
NOTE: You must meet the requirement to earn 24 hours even if you drop courses, change majors or transfer to another school. If you do not earn at least 24 hours, your TOPS Award will be canceled at the end of the Academic Year unless you are granted an exception for cause.
NOTE: If you must leave school completely during the semester or quarter, or if you transfer to another eligible institution after the semester or quarter has begun, you should officially resign with the Registrar’s Office so that you do not receive failing grades in all of the courses in which you were enrolled. If you do not, your TOPS Award may be jeopardized. If you resign, your award will be canceled and you must submit a Request for Exception form to be considered for an exception.
TOPS Recipients with less than Full-time Enrollment
TOPS requires a memo (per student) on letterhead from the student’s advisor or department head for the following conditions:
- If a student is graduating during a specified quarter and has less than 8 hours remaining to graduate, then that student must get a memo (on letter head) from his/her advisor. This memo must state the student’s name, ID#, intended graduation quarter and the #of hours the student must take during the specified quarter in order to complete degree program requirements.
- If a student has two quarters remaining until graduation and only certain classes are offered each quarter and NO OTHER classes are required or available during each quarter, a memo is also required. The memo is to read similarly to the afore mentioned, however this memo must also state that no other classes are available or offered during said quarter to complete the degree program requirements.
These memo’s must be specific as to which quarter/academic year the student is going to graduate and that the classes being taken are all that remain to graduate.
The TOPS Coordinator will then code the student as ELIGIBLE for PART-TIME TOPS payment. The student will only be paid TOPS money which equals the charge for enrolled hours (plus TOPS stipend – if any exists). The paid amount will not exceed the TOPS maximum payment for his/her level.
If the student does not supply the required memo by the last day of DROP/ADD for that quarter, they will not be paid TOPS as they will be considered ineligible at less than full-time enrollment.
Please send all memos relating to TOPS to the attention of:Scholarship Coordinator Office of Financial Aid
TOPS Summer Information
There has been TOPS Rule Change! Please read all of the information provided carefully. On March 19, 2012, the Louisiana Student Financial Assistance Commission amended Section 301 of the Scholarship and Grant Program Rules to change the definition of academic year (college) to include summer sessions.
Beginning with the 2011-2012 Academic Year and thereafter, the TOPS Academic Year begins with the fall term of the award year and concludes immediately before the next fall term commences.
NOTE: All intersessions (at semester school) and summer sessions/terms are included. However, TOPS does not automatically pay for summer sessions, certain conditions apply.
For TOPS Opportunity, Performance and Honors recipients in Academic Programs, this change means: Your window to earn 24 Academic Year Hours to meet the TOPS requirement now includes Summer. Hours earned from all semesters and terms from Fall through Summer will be included.
If your TOPS Award is in Good Standing at the conclusion of Spring Term, and you meet all of the criteria below, TOPS funding for Summer Session maybe available depending on funding, if you elect to request it by completing the TOPS Summer Payment Request Form. It is important to remember that using TOPS for Summer Funding counts as one of your eight semesters or twelve quarters.
Specific Conditions Under Which TOPS Opportunity, Performance and Honors Awards Pays for Summer:
- You must enroll in a minimum of 8 hours. These hours can come from one or all sessions
- You must have earned a minimum of 60 hours by the end of Spring 2018
- Be prepared to pay out of pocket if you do not meet the TOPS requirements.
NOTE: TOPS Summer availability will be determined by LOSFA at the end of the Spring Quarter. If funding is available the TOPS Summer Payment Request Forms will then become available.
TOPS Failure to Maintain Eligibility
Students whose awards are suspended for failure to maintain the required GPA or steady academic progress may be reinstated upon attainment of the required GPA, provided that the period of ineligibility did not persist for more than two years and continuous full-time enrollment was maintained.
There is no reinstatement for failure to earn 24 hours per academic year, except in exceptional circumstances.
Your TOPS Cumulative GPA is calculated on all coursework you attempted at all schools, including repeated courses, at the end of each spring semester or quarter based on hours, grades and quality points reported by all schools you have attended, so it may be different from that grade point average calculated by the school you attend.
Exceptions cannot be granted for failure to make Steady Academic Progress or to earn the minimum TOPS Cum GPA.
If you are not registered each semester or quarter as a full-time student as of the 15th class day at a semester institution or the 10th class day at a quarter institution. Correspondence courses do not count toward full-time enrollment.
Credits from Advanced Placement, CLEP, and Credit by Exam are not included in Academic Year Earned Hours. Correspondence courses are only included in hours earned if completed and credit is given during the Academic Year.
For information on requesting an exception, see the review the following section.
TOPS Granting Exceptions
Exceptions to the 24 hours of earned credit per Academic Year may be granted by the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) for certain circumstances beyond the student’s control. Students seeking waiver of this requirement must complete an exception to continuous enrollment request form and provide all necessary documentation.
This form can be found at the LOSFA web site under the TOPS Portal/Forms: TOPS Exception Request Form. If approved, and all other continuation requirements are met, the award will be reinstated. Requests for exception to continuous enrollment must be received not later than six months after the date of the notice of cancellation.
NOTE: REQUESTING AN EXCEPTION
An exception for cause to the requirement to enroll for the first time as a full-time student by the deadline, to enroll full-time each semester or term thereafter, to remain continuously enrolled and/or to earn 24 hours may be granted if, by the deadline specified in the letter notifying you of the cancelation of your award, you submit a Request for Exception form with the required supporting documentation sufficient to justify a failure to comply with these requirements. You can obtain the Request for Exception form with instructions and a list of the required documentation at www.osfa.la.gov, “Forms”, “Scholarship & Grant (TOPS) Forms” and then click “Download” for the “Request for Exception” form or you can call a Public Information Representative at 1-800-259-5626, ext. 1012, or locally at (225) 219-1012, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. If your Request for Exception form is not received by the deadline, it will NOT be considered.
Renewing Your TOPS Award
To renew your TOPS Award for the next academic year, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or a renewal FAFSA by July 1st of each year.
For more information:
Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance
P.O. Box 91202, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-9202
www.osfa.la.gov or E-mail: CUSTSERV@OSFA.LA.OV