While completion of the FAFSA form is required for all graduating seniors, important deadlines are approaching that make it especially urgent for all students to get their FAFSA completed right away. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (or FAFSA) form is the gateway to more than $120 billion in federal grants, loans and work-study funds, as well as other private or merit-based scholarships. FAFSA is also required to qualify for Louisiana's TOPS program. The majority of universities, including four-year colleges across Louisiana, begin making their admission and scholarship decisions during the month of December. That means any student without a FAFSA form on file risks missing out on this important selection process.
There are important benefits to submitting a FAFSA in a timely fashion, according to Lafayette Parish School System (LPSS) Students included in the first round of university selection/consideration will have the best chance at receiving scholarships or other financial aid. They will also know what financial support they can expect to receive sooner, making their decisions easier when admission letters begin arriving in March. Knowing in advance what resources the student will have for funding post-secondary education allows families to better plan for the future.
LPSS GEAR UP and other school personnel are working with students and families to help them complete their FAFSA application. It's important to know that in most cases, the process is relatively simple and only takes about 30-60 minutes to complete. The 2021/2020 FAFSA is based on the family's 2019 tax return, which can be easily accessed via the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Even if a family is missing important data, GEAR UP coaches say it is important to submit the form as soon as possible to preserve a student's place in line, so to speak. Parents can always update or edit their form later on if needed.
Assistance with filling out the FAFSA form is available to all LPSS seniors and their families. Louisiana's Department of Education has set up a free hotline to provide parents with line-by-line, one-on-one assistance in filling out the form at 844-GOFAFSA. Most students who apply will qualify for some type of assistance, whether it's federal grants, work-study funds, or even low-interest federal student loans.
GEAR UP is a competitive grant program of the U.S. Department of Education that increases the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education by providing states and local community-education partnerships six to seven year grants to offer support services to high-need, middle and high schools. Learn more at https://lpssgearup.com.
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