Louisiana Readiness Policies


High School and Postsecondary Alignment

SREB’s Challenge to Lead 2020 goals call for states to align middle grades and high school policies with college-readiness standards, to recognize multiple paths to graduation and to provide students with diverse postsecondary options and resources. The following tabs summarize how Louisiana aligns its policies to promote smooth transitions for students through high school and beyond.  


College and Career Planning in K-12

Starting in the eighth grade, students begin developing their Individual Graduation Plans with the help of their school counselors. School counselors are responsible for meeting with students, advising on academic choices and helping students update their plans annually throughout high school. Plans include components such as assessment results, career goals, coursework and extracurricular activities.

In 10th grade, students add their chosen high school diploma path to their IGP — either the Jump Start TOPS Tech Pathway or the TOPS University Pathway. Students choose a career concentration that informs their selection of academic electives. Finally, in 12th grade, students add financial aid completion information to their IGPs.

Students have access to several online planning tools to explore careers and align high school course selections with future goals.

The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance runs Louisiana Award System that allows students, their families and school counselors to track financial aid programs including TOPS and TOPS TECH eligibility and to store individual graduation plans.

My Life My Way and Unlock My Future are online career planning tools that help students explore and assess career interests and align those with academic goals.

Star Jobs is a searchable database of Louisiana-specific career and employer information provided by Louisiana Workforce Commission that connects students to high-demand career opportunities aligned with their interests.


High School Graduation Requirements

Course and Diploma Requirements for Students Entering Ninth Grade in 2014 and Beyond

Louisiana students may choose from two high school diploma pathway options: the Taylor Opportunity for Students University diploma pathway or the Jump Start TOPS Tech Career diploma pathway. The Taylor University Pathway, requiring 24 credits, rewards students for completing more rigorous options such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and dual enrollment courses. The Jump Start program, requiring 23 credits, allows students to take more career courses, certifies skill mastery in specific career fields and prepares students for high-wage careers.

All Louisiana’s ninth and 10th grade students will take common foundational coursework, irrespective of the diploma pathway they ultimately receive. Each student will be required to complete two units each of English, math, science and social studies, one half credit of health, and one- and one-half credits of physical education in these grades.

Subject TOPS University Diploma Jump Start TOPS Tech (Career Diploma)

Four Credits:

English I

English II

English III*

English IV*

Four Credits:

English I

English II

2 credits from*: English III, English IV, AP, IB, Business English, Technical Writing or comparable LA Technical College courses as approved by BESE


Four Credits:

Algebra I


Algebra II*

1 credit from: 

Algebra III; Advanced Math- Functions and Statistics      

Four Credits:

1 credit from*: Algebra I, Algebra I, Part One and Two or an applied or hybrid Algebra course

3 credits from: Geometry*, Math Essentials, Financial Literacy, Business Math, Algebra II, Algebra III*, Advanced Math – Functions and Statistics, Advanced Math – Pre-Calculus, Pre-Calculus, or comparable approved Louisiana Technical College courses


Four Credits:

Biology I*

Chemistry I*

2 credits from: one of Chemistry II, Physics I, Electricity and Magnetism, Biology II; or one  of Biology II, Anatomy and Physiology           

Two Credits:

Biology I*

1 credit from*
Chemistry I, Earth Science, Environmental Science, Physical Science, Agriscience I and II (one credit combined), Physics, or AP or IB science courses

Social Studies

Four Credits:

U. S. History*

1 credit from*: Civics, Government, AP U.S. Government and Politics: Comparative

2 credits from: Western Civilization, or European History; and World Geography, World History, Government, Economics, or Psychology

Two Credits:

U.S. History*

1 credit from*: Civics, Government, AP U.S. Government and Politics: Comparative

Health/ Physical Education

Two credits:

Physical Education

1 half credit from: Physical Education II, Marching Band, Extracurricular Sports, Cheering or Dance Teams

1 half credit from: Health Education or JROTC I and II

Diploma Specific Requirements

Six credits:

2 credits in the same foreign language

2 art credits 

2 elective credits

Nine Jump Start Course Units: Each student must complete a regionally-designed, district-implemented series of Career and Technical Education Jump Start coursework and workplace-based learning experiences leading to a statewide or regional Jump Start credential.

Total Credits 24 23
*These courses may be substituted for other AP, IB, or other approved Louisiana Technical college courses
Health and Physical Education courses may be substituted by JROTC for the TOPS University (college diploma).

Students must demonstate performance-based competency in technology. 

Students may earn a Community Service Endorsement for completing a minimum of 80 hours of community service hours by graduation. Students may also earn a STEM Diploma Endorsement for completing one of Louisiana’s eight STEM Pathways.

Assessment Requirements

Students take the LEAP 2025 end-of-course tests in seven courses: English I, English II, English III, Algebra I, Geometry, Biology I and U.S. History. To earn a high school diploma, students must score fair or above on at least three EOC exams, including one in English, one in math, and one in Biology or U.S. History. Student scores on EOC tests count toward a student’s final course grade. Students in grade 11 must also take the ACT. Students on track for a Jump Start Diploma also take the ACT WorkKeys.

All graduating high school students must complete the FAFSA.


Accelerated Learning Options in High School

Competency-Based Credit

The College Level Examination Program is an opportunity for students to demonstrate mastery on 34 exams in five subject areas and earn between three and 12 college credits before leaving high school. Currently, CLEP exams cost $90. The amount of college credit a student can earn on individual CLEP exams varies by college.

Career and Technical Education

The Louisiana Department of Education career education initiative Jump Start requires students to attain industry-valued credentials to graduate with a Career Diploma. Jump Start regional teams have developed 11 graduation pathways for students to pursue. Schools receive the same credit for students pursuing advanced credentials and technical diplomas as for those who achieve top AP test scores.

Eligible high school juniors and seniors may use the TOPS-Tech Early Start Award to fund any technical or applied course leading to a certificate issued by a postsecondary institution or any Louisiana Workforce-recognized entity. To be eligible, students must meet the following:

  • Be in good standing as an 11th or 12th grade student as defined by the student’s high school
  • Have an approved 5-year Education and Career Plan
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.0
  • Score 15 or above on the math and English portions of the Pre-ACT, on the ACT, or equivalent value on the SAT or Silver level on the ACT WorkKeys
  • Enroll in a course in a high-demand, Industry-Based Occupational or Vocational Education Credential Program

Students may enroll in up to six hours per high school semester in the 11th and 12th grades.

Dual Enrollment and Dual Credit

Dual enrollment students are enrolled in both high school and college and earn both secondary and postsecondary credit. Students may enroll in in-person or online college courses at local technical, community and/or four-year colleges or may take college-level courses specially offered on the high school campus.

Beginning Jan 1, 2020, the Louisiana Board of Regents set minimum eligibility requirements for students participating in dual enrollment courses. Students must demonstrate college readiness by meeting benchmark scores on one of several college readiness or placement exams, as well as have a 2.5 cumulative high school GPA. Postsecondary institutions may set higher placement score requirements than those set by the Board.

Act 128 (2019) creates the Dual Enrollment Framework Task Force. The law charges the task force with developing recommendations related to funding, course requirements, teacher qualifications and student eligibility. The act also directs the task force to develop a draft process for increasing program coordination, credit articulation and regular evaluation of state strategies.

Act 204 (2020) established the Dual Enrollment Innovation and Equity Grant to conduct capacity building for implementation of a statewide dual enrollment framework to support high schools and postsecondary institutions in providing equitable dual enrollment opportunities and to encourage participation in such programs.

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate

Students who enroll in Advanced Placement courses and score a 3 or higher on the corresponding exam may be eligible for college credit. Offered courses are aligned with the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students core requirements, and exam scores of 3 or higher are recognized with 150 points (the highest achievement level) toward the graduation index. AP exam scores of 1 or 2 earn 110 points toward the graduation index.

To ensure that all students retain access to the AP program, the Louisiana Department of Education has encouraged districts to subsidize the cost of AP exams for low-income students. The DOE provides funding options to help guide districts in doing so.

To participate in the International Baccalaureate program, Louisiana students must enroll in a full-time, six-course program. Students who score a 4 or higher on standardized EOC exams will earn college credit as well as the maximum 150 points toward the graduation index. Students who earn a 1, 2, or 3 on IB exams will receive 110 points toward the graduation index.

Early High School Graduation

Louisiana high school students have the option of leaving high school early — typically after the junior year — and enrolling full time in college. Students who qualify for early admission must have a B average over three years and score 25 or higher on the ACT or the SAT equivalent. Early college students earn their high school diplomas by successfully completing their first 24 credit hours at the college level.


Postsecondary Admission Requirements

Four-Year Institutions

The Board of Regents group public, four-year universities by institution type – flagship, statewide or regional. Each grouping shares minimum standards for ACT scores and high school GPAs students must earn to qualify for college admission. Universities may adopt additional, more specific or rigorous requirements.

All applicants must complete the 19-unit Regents’ Core, which is based on the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students curriculum. The Regents’ Core requires four units each in English, math, science and social studies; two units of world language; and one unit of fine arts. Universities may make exceptions to the minimum admission standards for 4 to 8% of the freshman class, depending on the institution type.

Minimum Performance Requirements by Institution Type

Institution Type High School GPA ACT Composite

Two Year College

Flagship (Louisiana State University) 3.0 25

Associate’s Degree

or 18 early college credit hours with 2.5 GPA

Statewide Universities 2.5 23

Associate’s Degree

or 15 early college credit hours with 2.25 GPA

Regional Universities 2.0 20

Associate’s Degree

or 12 early college credit hours with 2.0 GPA

HBCU 2.0 20

Associate’s Degree

or 9 early college credit hours with 2.0 GPA

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

Community colleges are open-admission institutions. Applicants must complete an admissions application, submit their high school diplomas, GED credentials and/or scores on institutional tests that indicate their ability to benefit from instruction, provide proof of selective service registration, and produce immunization records. System policy states that specific educational programs may require additional admissions documentation.


Postsecondary Placement Policies


The Louisiana Board of Regents requires students at all public institutions to earn at least a 19 ACT score in Math for placement in college-level courses or earn an equivalent score on one of the following assessments:

  • 500-510 on SAT Math
  • 65 on the Accuplacer Elementary Algebra subtest

Students at all public institutions must earn at least an 18 ACT score in English for placement in college-level courses or earn an equivalent score on one of the following assessments:

  • 500 on the SAT ERW
  • 86 on the Accuplacer Sentence Skills section

Institutions may enroll students in co-requisite math and English courses if they score an 19 or 18 on the ACT Math and English subtests, respectively.  

The board authorizes institutions to create alternative placement systems, upon approval by the system’s Division of Academic and Student Affairs.


State Financial Aid for Undergraduates

Merit-Based Aid

The state funds the merit-based Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, or TOPS. Recent high school graduates may qualify for one of four awards.

Students may qualify for the Opportunity Award with a minimum high school grade-point average of 2.5 and ACT Composite score of 20 or higher. To renew the award at the end of freshman year, students must maintain a 2.3 GPA. To renew the award in subsequent years, students must earn a cumulative GPA of 2.5. The award is equal to tuition.

Students may qualify for the Performance Award with a minimum high school GPA of 3.0 and ACT Composite score of 23 or higher. Students graduating in 2022 and beyond will need to earn a minimum GPA of 3.25 to be eligible for the Performance award. To renew the award after each academic year, students must earn a cumulative GPA of 3.0. Eligible students receive a tuition award plus a $400 stipend.

Students may qualify for the Honors Award with a minimum high school GPA of 3.0 and ACT Composite score of 27 or higher. Students graduating in 2022 and beyond will need to earn a minimum GPA of 3.50 to be eligible for the Honors award. To renew the award after each academic year, students must earn a cumulative GPA of 3.0. Eligible students receive a tuition award plus a $800 stipend.

The three awards require the completion of a 19-unit high school core curriculum. The total award amount varies by institution. The Office of Student Financial Assistance updates the award amount annually based on state appropriations.

The TOPS Tech Award provides tuition grants for students attending two-year institutions. Students may qualify for the award with a minimum high school GPA of 2.5 and ACT Composite score of 17 or higher. Students may qualify for the Tech Award by completing the JumpStart curriculum or the course requirements for the Opportunity, Performance, and Honors Awards.

Recipients must complete at least 24 credit hours annually to remain eligible for their award. The Louisiana Student Financial Assistance Commission evaluates continued eligibility at the end of each academic year. Students may regain their scholarship if they meet GPA requirements at the end of the subsequent academic year.

Need-Based Aid

The purpose of the GO Grant program is to provide a need-based component to the state’s financial aid plan to support nontraditional low and moderate-income students who need additional aid to afford the cost of attending college. Participants must be Louisiana residents, file a FAFSA, receive a Pell Grant, and have remaining financial aid after their EFC and all federal, state, and institutional aid has been deducted from the student’s Cost of Attendance. Students must be enrolled in an eligible Louisiana institution on at least a half-time basis. Demonstration of financial need as previously described must be true in order for renewal.

The Louisiana state legislature recently passed a bill creating the MJ Foster Promise Program, which provides last-dollar financial support for students 21 or older seeking credentials – either short-term workforce training or an associate degree – in high-demand industries, including construction, healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, and transportation and logistics. Students must meet a family income threshold of 300% below the Federal Poverty Level or be unemployed or underemployed for at least six months in order to be eligible to participate in the program.




Postsecondary Feedback to High Schools

The Louisiana Department of Education publishes state, district and school level data on the number and percentage of individual high school’s graduates who attend college, and of those, rates of students applying in-state and to two- and four- year institutions.