Louisiana's Department of Education says a record number of graduates have met the requirements necessary to receive a TOPS award.

The news comes as the Louisiana House of Representatives is scheduled to debate on Thursday (4/12) bills that would change the TOPS program.

Currently, high school students in the state must complete a specified list of core, score 20 or higher on the ACT test, and graduate with a grade-point average of 2.5 or better to receive one of the taxpayer-funded scholarship levels.

House Bill 413 would make it tougher for students to receive an award with a mandatory GPA of 2.75 or better and a minimum score of 21 on the ACT. House Bill 414 would tighten the requirements necessary for college students to retain their TOPS dollars.

Both bills have passed the House Education Committee.

The Senate has forwarded two proposals to the House for debate on Thursday. One is referred to as the "TOPS Second Chance" (Senate Bill 380) bill. It would create a new award for students who don't qualify but make at least a 17 on the ACT. Stipulations would be in place for these students to maintain their funding once they are enrolled in a four-year state college.

The other Senate-approved measure (Senate Bill 394) creates a TOPS Tech 2PLUS2 award. It's also designed for students who don't make at least a 20 on the ACT. It's designed for students in community college who complete the requirements for an associate degree and are enrolling in a four-year school.

The two Senate-backed bills would affect the class of 2021 if approved by the House.

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