The November General PTSA meeting featured two speakers focused on secondary school funding.
SFC Thomas, Louisiana National Guard informed parents about the financial opportunities and resulting service requirements gained from enlisting as a member of the Louisiana National Guard.
The second speaker was Ms. Timenee Thomas, Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOFSA). She spoke on two topics:
The first was the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS), a program of state scholarships for Louisiana residents who attend either one of the Louisiana Public Colleges and Universities, schools that are a part of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, Louisiana approved Proprietary and Cosmetology Schools or institutions that are a part of the Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.
Her second topic was on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Office of Federal Student Financial Aid provides grants, loans, and work-study funds for college and career schools. The application form is on-line and is available at https://fafsa.ed.gov/index.htm. Unfortunately, the slides that Ms. Thomas presented are not provided to the PTSA for posting per LOFSA office policy. However, the information is available on the LOFSA website at https://www.osfa.la.gov/tops_mainlink.html. Ms. Thomas spoke with several parents after the meeting and provided the subsequent information as a follow up:
Can students take gap years/time off in between semesters/academic years and still qualify for TOPS? o No, students must be continuously enrolled in a Louisiana postsecondary institution in order to receive TOPS payment. However, a student is allowed one year following the high school graduation to enroll and take advantage of the TOPS award. For example, students graduating in 2018 must enroll by the fall semester/quarter of 2019. The FAFSA must be filed by July 1, 2019.
How does TOPS work for students completing internships, co-ops, or any other supplemental programs? o A special request must be made from the student and institution regarding the terms of the program and the student not being enrolled to be considered for continued TOPS payment once completed.
Can students use the TOPS award if they are fully enrolled at an out-of-state institution but want to take classes in Louisiana over the summer? o Students must still comply with the summer session TOPS payment requirements: § the summer session is required in your degree program for graduation and you enrolled for at least the minimum number of hours required for the degree program, or § you can complete your program’s graduation requirements in the summer session, or § the course(s) taken during the summer session is required for graduation in the program in which you are enrolled and is only offered during the summer session, or § the summer session is conducted for a technical program in which you are enrolled, or § you have earned at least 60 hours. o Students must provide a transcript from the out-of-state institution to document SAP o Funding must also be available for summer session payments