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Working group creates policy to help graduates seek financial aid

9 months 1 week 2 days ago March 01, 2016 Mar 1, 2016 Tuesday, March 01 2016 March 01, 2016 1:53 PM in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - A newly commissioned Financial Aid Working Group came together for the first time in Baton Rouge as they begin developing an action plan to implement the state’s new student financial aid choice policy.

The group’s goal is to increase student access to financial aid and to provide districts with necessary supports to efficiently get the policy in place and running. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) passed the policy, which requires graduates in the class of 2018 and beyond to complete financial aid forms or a non-participation form.

"Every graduate should be able to go to college or pursue post-secondary training after high school," said State Superintendent John White. "Part of doing this is being able to afford tuition. Louisiana graduates leave $250 million in financial aid on the table each year, just because forms are not completed. By giving all families the choice to complete these financial aid forms, graduates can access money to pay for their education and achieve their dreams.”

The Financial Aid Working Group is made up of members from a wide-range of different organizations, all of which are highly invested in promoting post-secondary access for students in the state. The members of the group will devise an action plan for implementation, support and establish programs to meet that goal for high schools, families and students.

The group will meet on Apr. 21 and June 9 before providing its final report to BESE in August.

The new BESE financial aid policy requires public school students graduating in spring 2018 and beyond to take one of the following steps as part of their Individual Graduation Plan: 

1.) Complete the FAFSA; or
2.) Complete the Louisiana TOPS form; or
3.) Submit a parent's signature on a non-participation form; or
4.) Receive a waiver through a district hardship waiver process.

Officials note that most Louisiana high school graduates are eligible for state or federal financial aid. Those funds are made available after students submit Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) applications for financial aid.

The Department of Education says FAFSA is for all forms of federal financial aid, including Pell grants, work study programs, and federal student loans available to students to aid in the cost of education and technical training beyond high school. Either the FAFSA or the LOSFA application is required for Louisiana graduates to receive TOPS and TOPS Tech scholarships, which can also be used for college and technical training.

For a list of members of the Financial Aid Working Group, please click here. For more information on increasing student access to financial aid in Louisiana, please click here.

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