Shared from the 2/7/2017 American Press eEdition



The time is now to complete the all-important Free Application for Federal Student Aid paperwork, the gateway to more than $150 billion in grants, workstudy funds and federal student loans.

And with possible cuts to the TOPS program looming over the next legislative session, more students than ever are applying.

In previous years, about $54 million per year in federal dollars were left on the table because students didn’t apply for the funds.

That likely won’t be the case this year.

Louisiana has nearly 42,000 public high school seniors, according to the state Department of Education. In January of 2016, only 797, or 2 percent, of seniors had turned in their forms; so far this year, 11,000, or 26 percent, of students have done so.

The deadline is June 30.

State leaders attribute the increase in applications to the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to make the FAFSA available three months earlier this year, and the state’s own push to make schools aware of the importance of helping students complete the forms.

“It’s vital that students seek FAFSA, scholarships and other possibilities for college funding,” said Judy Harrison, a counselor for seniors at LaGrange High School. “It can be quite a shock to parents and students to find out what it actually costs to attend college.”

The FAFSA forms collect information about your family’s finances to determine your expected family contribution (EFC), the minimum amount your family is deemed able to contribute toward the cost of college. The amount of need that a student is eligible for is the cost of attendance less the EFC. The EFC takes into account factors like family size and the number of children in college, but the key drivers of aid eligibility are the income and assets of the parents and the student.

Louisiana’s Office of Student Financial Assistance is offering free professional help with these forms to students and their families during its College Goal Sunday event this weekend. One-on-one assistance will be available.

Among the 15 locations around Louisiana providing assistance in filling out the forms will be Sowela Technical Community College. The event is set for 1:30-4 p.m. Sunday, Feb.

12. Students under 24 must bring a parent or legal guardian.

Pre-registration for the event is encouraged to ensure that each site has the resources needed to assist all participants. Students can pre-register at; the website also contains detailed information including the specific records and documentation that participants will need to bring to the event.

Completing the form correctly with detailed income, tax and other information can be a daunting task. Please take advantage of this help to maximize your student’s financial aid eligibility. It will be worth it.


This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the board, whose members are CRYSTAL STEVENSON, JOHN GUIDROZ, EMILY FONTENOT, retired editor JIM BEAM and retired staff writer MIKE JONES.

See this article in the e-Edition Here