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TOPS eligibility would be eased for students affected by Hurricane Ida under this bill

04_after hurricane_closer view of flooded homes_jean lafitte louisiana_31aug2021_wv2.jpg
Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies
A closer view of flooded homes in Jean Lafitte, Louisiana, after Hurricane Ida. Aug 31, 2021

This story was originally published by the Louisiana Illuminator.

The Louisiana Legislature passed a bill that would modify eligibility requirements for Louisiana’s free college tuition program.

Senate Bill 178, authored by Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, would waive certain GPA requirements for the state’s TOPS program and extend deadlines for turning in ACT scores to universities. The bill would also prevent students who transferred to out-of-state schools because of Hurricane Ida from losing their scholarship.

The exemptions already apply to high school and college students through a governor’s proclamation in October 2021. Fields’ bill would codify the exceptions should the proclamation expire.

The relaxed standards only apply to students from Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Plaquemines, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, Tangipahoa and Terrebonne parishes.

The bill passed unanimously in both the Louisiana Senate and House of Representatives.

The exemptions would make 24,851 Louisiana students eligible for TOPS who would otherwise not qualify.

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