To go back to school, or not to go back to school... That is the question.

That's certainly the question being wrestled with currently by thousands of Louisiana college students. Several that I know here in Shreveport-Bossier are considering skipping the semester to avoid COVID-19 at all costs... However, what if that cost is extremely significant? As in TOPS eligibility. I would imagine that could change a lot of students' plans.

College students who have been receiving TOPS but are choosing not to take classes in the fall must fill out an exemption form with LOSFA or lose their TOPS eligibility. The form itself is easy to find and fill out, but it does not guarantee approval.

LOSFA director Dr. Sujuan Boutte says, "Just because you file an exception does not mean it is going to be approved, that very much is dependent upon whether the student is able to provide the documentation required."

Some exemption reasons include if you or a person in your household have morbidities that exacerbate COVID-19, medically documented anxiety related to contracting COVID-19, or a learning disability that precludes online learning.

Sure, there will be many students who simply aren't comfortable with in-person classes at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those students, of course, can apply for online classes and still maintain their eligibility. Boutte says, "The student can choose to attend online, some campuses have a hybrid, the student can choose to attend that hybrid, the TOPS award is going to be the same regardless of which option they chose.”

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