NATCHITOCHES – As high school seniors prepare for college in the fall, NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio and the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) urges the class of 2020 to complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) today in the FAFSA Now campaign.
“I encourage all 2020 high school graduates and their parents to go ahead and complete the FAFSA application to find out how much gift aid they qualify for,” Maggio said. “Filling out the FAFSA can reduce a student’s out-of-pocket payments for post-secondary studies.”
“The return on investment is far greater when completing the FAFSA as opposed to not completing the application,” said Brittani Williams, LOSFA’s Financial Aid and Career Development Specialist. When considering the rising costs of college, Williams added the FAFSA is a one-stop form, and students who do not complete a FAFSA could be missing out on free money.
The FAFSA is the application for federal aid such as the Pell Grant, Work Study and Federal Student Loans. The FAFSA is also the application for state aid such as the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS), and the Louisiana GO Grant. In addition, many institutions also use information from the FAFSA when deciding which students receive scholarships, also known as institutional aid. Some national scholarships, like the Bill Gates Scholarship, also require completion of the FAFSA.
“Even though we are socially distant from one another, our team is dedicated to providing ongoing virtual assistance to students and families to ensure that they receive the maximum amount of aid they qualify for,” said LOSFA’s Executive Director and Northwestern State alumna Dr. Sujuan Boutte. “This is the basis of our FAFSA Now initiative: Aid is available; You have to apply in order to receive it, and the LOSFA team is here to help.”
The FAFSA Now initiative will use text messaging and social media outlets (@LOSFA: Twitter and Facebook; @LOSFA001: Instagram) to get the word out to students about the importance of completing the FAFSA. LOSFA will also be available online to help students and their parents complete the FAFSA or make any corrections.
Constance Wilson is an example of the FAFSA Now initiative in action. Wilson is a teacher at Carroll High School in Monroe and an extended member of LOSFA because her school is supported by LOSFA Field Outreach Services. Before school was let out due to COVID-19, making sure the seniors had completed their FAFSA was her priority. She printed the senior roster and highlighted those seniors who had not completed their FAFSA.
“I have 28 more students (out of 136) left who need to complete their FAFSA. I text the parents to let them know to contact me as soon as possible to discuss their child’s FAFSA as well,” said Wilson. She has also created a Facebook page to reach students who have not submitted the form. “Social media works for them. I can encourage them to get things done.”
The National College Attainment Network (NCAN) recently announced the FAFSA is a common measure to gauge whether a student will persist or enroll in college; 72 percent of seniors who complete the FAFSA are more likely to continue in post-secondary education.
According to NCAN’s FAFSA Tracker, 63.2 percent of Louisiana seniors have completed the FAFSA as of March 27th, placing Louisiana at number two in the nation for FAFSA completion. Louisiana has ranked number one in the nation the last two years in a row.
“It’s more critical now than ever that students file the FAFSA. In time of uncertainty, it is critical to focus on that which we can control. Filing the FAFSA in order to maximize the amount of aid received for college is within the control and reach of students and families,” said Boutte.
Hunter-Reed added, “Education is key to Louisiana’s Talent Imperative. We are committed to leveling the playing field by providing families with assistance towards obtaining financial aid. Completing the FAFSA is the first step towards providing equity of access for Louisiana students and families and equity of access is essential to the future of our state.”
To receive virtual assistance with the FAFSA: text the word ‘LOSFA’ to 50065, use #GeauxFAFSA on social media, and/or email GeauxFAFSA@la.gov.