Being in college is one of the most expensive aspects one goes through, but to help pay for schooling there are things like student loans, work studies, financial aid, etc. On November 12th, Southern University Financial Aid Office held a Zoom Seminar about Financial Aid, Scholarships and FAFSA for current and prospective students. The purpose of this seminar was to give the general information that pertained to first time and current college students on their FASFAs. The event included speakers like the Southern University Financial Aid advisors and a worker from the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA).

Executive Director of Admissions and Recruitment, Heather Freeman, began by giving a brief itinerary of the meeting that night. After the brief itinerary, Freeman talked about the university itself and attending the university to those in the meeting.

“Giving glory to our great Institution, with Southern’s great accomplishments like having the #1 nursing program in the state of Louisiana. The only HBCU system in the world, with five campuses, Baton Rouge main campus, SU New Orleans, 2-year campus SU Shreveport, the Agricultural Research center located in Baton Rouge, and famous Law Center on Baton Rouges Campus,” said Freeman. For out-of-state students, Ms. Freeman was sure to make note that incoming freshmen knew that “…if you have a 2.5 GPA, Southern will waive the out of state fee and they will be able to attend with in-state tuition.”

As the seminar continued, Career Development Specialist and LOSFA representative, Brittany Williams went into detail about LOSFA office programs for in-state students, Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS), and eligibility requirements.

Regarding TOPS Williams says that “Our TOPS funding is contingent upon appropriation.” She continues by saying that “If TOPS for some reason, any reason, TOPS is not fully funded students can opt-out and wait till the next school year to see if the TOPS funding amount will change and will not lose any of your eligibility.” After the Louisiana Legislative session, if not a special session, is when they know the total TOPS amount that students will be perceiving at their institutions.

The residency requirements for TOPS have been established no later than 2018. Ms. Williams states this as “…the seniors this year are in for a “treat” and that next year’s TOPS requirements will be “stringent” last year receiving tops with measures on screen.”

Christopher Levy, a financial aid counselor, gives FAFSA terms to know, the process of completing it, and what happens after completing it. Levy says “Over 3 million students each year complete FAFSA and receive over 120 billion in grants work-study and low-interest forms.” Important items needed for application are your social security number, driver’s license, 2019 Tax records for the student and parents, or any records of untaxed income.

The way Financial Aid is decided is by calculating the information you provided. Aspects like the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is calculated from the info provided on FAFSA. The U.S. Department of Education individually figures this out, and not decided by the universities. The amount you receive will be the same at every college. Cost of Attendance (COA) is the estimated total of education expenses versus specific enrollment. May be different at each school you put on FAFSA because it is estimated by each school. The COA minus the EFC equals what will be covered by FAFSA.

When scholarships were talked about, Levy expressed to “Search, search, search for scholarships. When you are completing your scholarship applications, your essays, be sure that you’re telling a compelling story. You want to sell your story. Sell yourself.” Scholarships are a fantastic way to get extra income for the school. Listed resources were Southern’s Instagram page, @subr_finaid, their Linktree link, Linktr.ee/SUBRFinAid, which leads to different scholarship search pages like the Sallie Mae Scholarship search and LOSFA Scholarship search page. For out-of-state students, he says it “…very important for students to reach out to the Southern University Alumni Federation with multiple chapters around the nation…”

For more information about Financial Aid or Scholarships, can contact The Office of Financial Aid at 225-771-2790 or in their office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can also speak to Ms. Williams by texting LOSFA to 50055 for more information.

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