Louisiana financial aid for college is easy to find if you know where to look. There are several state sponsored Louisiana scholarships and grants available for students. Some are need based but others are based on merit. If you need to make school more affordable, check out these options for your education:
- TOPS Honors Awards
These awards are merit based scholarships that cover all tuition and certain fees at public universities and colleges within Louisiana. The scholarships also offer an $800 annual stipend for books and supplies. Students who wish to attend schools in the Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities will gain the average amount of tuition that students would pay for public schools plus the $800 annual stipend.
To qualify for these awards, students must take 17.5 core units and must have a minimum GPA of 3.0, calculated from the grades in just those core units. Students must also have a minimum ACT score of 27 or an equivalent SAT score of 1210. Students must also be Louisiana residents enrolling full time in college by the first semester following the first anniversary of their high school graduation. Students who are homeschooled can also apply for this award by scoring at least a 28 on the ACT, and Louisiana residents actually graduating from out-of-state schools may be eligible with an ACT score of at least 30.
To apply for this award, students must first complete the FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Students who apply earlier are more likely to get an award in case of a budget shortfall. Students can also skip the FAFSA and fill out the online TOPS application, although this isn’t recommended.
To renew the award, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA at the end of every academic year and must maintain steady progress at the end of every term, with at least a 2.0 GPA at the end of each term. Students must earn at least twenty-four credit hours for the academic year and must be enrolled in school full-time. The award will be canceled if students fail to maintain full time status or to enroll in twenty-four hours per academic year.
For more information about these awards, go to www.osfa.la.gov/TOPS_H.htm.
- Other TOPS Awards
Louisiana has several other TOPS awards, as well. These include the TOPS Opportunity Award, the TOPS Performance Award, and the TOPS Tech Award. The basic requirements as far as residency and high school curriculum are similar. However, each award has a slightly different focus, making each award good for certain types of students.
The Opportunity Award is for students who have maintained a 2.0 GPA and who score at least the state average on the ACT or SAT. Since the average changes each year, so does the minimum required score. This award offers students free tuition at public universities and colleges and a large tuition payment for private schools.
The TOPS Performance Award requires a 3.0 GPA and a minimum SAT score of 23. Students can receive full tuition plus a $400 annual stipend with this particular award. Throughout college, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA, or they risk losing the stipend or losing the award altogether.
The TOPS Tech Award is for students who wish to go to technical and occupational training schools in Louisiana. The award pays full tuition for community and technical school systems as well as some cosmetology schools. Students must maintain a GPA of 2.5 and get a minimum ACT score of 17 to apply.
For more information on all the TOPS awards, go to http://www.osfa.la.gov/schgrt6.htm.
- Louisiana Go Grant Program
This is a need-based grant program for students who are nontraditional or who fall in the moderate to low income ranges. The grant is meant to go with other school, federal, and state grants and scholarships in order to make schooling more affordable for those in these categories.
To apply, students must be Louisiana residents and must be enrolled at least part-time in an eligible Louisiana college or universities. Students must demonstrate financial need by filing the FAFSA, and they must be eligible for a federal Pell Grant in order to be considered for these other Louisiana grants. After the Expected Family Contribution and Pell Grant are subtracted from the student’s Cost of Attendance, the financial need must be greater than zero for a student to be considered for this grant.
This grant can offer up to $900 in aid per year. Students can reapply by filing the FAFSA or Renewal Application at least once a year. They must continue to demonstrate enough financial need to qualify for a Pell Grant each year, as well. At www.osfa.state.la.us/go_grant.htm you can find more information on this grant. You can also check with your school’s financial aid office to see if you will be eligible.
- Pathways College Tuition Scholarship
This scholarship is specifically for those who want to work in early childhood education. Child care workers and new students seeking degrees or certification in the area of early childhood education can apply for these awards. The awards can pay for up to the full college tuition for community colleges, accredited two and four year universities, and LTC courses. Students will be required to conduct at least six hours of observation during the semester in which the award is given.
At certain colleges, the scholarship will pay for certain fees besides the cost of tuition. To find out more about this award, visit http://pathways.nsula.edu.
- Louisiana Leaders Council Scholarship
This scholarship is meant to support future leaders of Louisiana by giving them the means to a better education. Students should be full-time college students in Louisiana and should be able to show some leadership experience. Students must also be Louisiana residents and must maintain a 3.0 GPA for this award.
Award amounts and the number of awards given varies from year to year, depending on funding. Normally, the award is between $500 and $1,000, and one to three students are selected. To apply, students can download an application at www.louisianaleaderscouncil.org and fill it out by the fall deadline.