There are still options for students to receive financial aid during COVID-19 crisis

Updated: Apr. 16, 2020 at 4:21 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Money to pay for college tuition may not be there like it was before the pandemic. However, these experts explain there are flexible options to help students make ends meet.

One of those experts is Dr. Sujuan Boutte is the Executive Director of the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA). She said there is one vital action students should take to get the financial help they need.

“The single step families can take to make the biggest impact right now is to make sure they file their FAFSA,” said Boutte.

She tells high school seniors and current college students to file the FAFSA with their 2018 tax info. That’s because an earlier policy change now requires students to complete the form with a prior-prior year tax form. So, for 2020, students must use their 2018 information.

However, Boutte knows your situation now may be different from what it was in 2018.

“Maybe a family member… we hope not… fell ill with COVID-19 and there are large medical expenses,” she said.

Large expenses like these may mean you can ask your school’s financial aid office for special consideration. In cases of special consideration, the financial aid office will re-examine your paperwork to see if you qualify for more money. This applies for property and job losses, too.

“Document, document, document. File the FAFSA. Ask for special consideration. Contact your financial aid office,” said Boutte.

She said these steps are the best way to get the most out of scholarships and financial aid during the pandemic. Universities also encourages students to reach out if they have any questions.

“Make contact with someone and we will assist the student in getting the resources that they need,” said Dr. Kay Maurin, the Chief Enrollment Management Officer at Southeastern Louisiana University.

She explained that Southeastern staff members try to remain available to students on social media and email. She also explained that a student’s performance this semester will not affect their eligibility for TOPS and other scholarships.

“The requirements for TOPS will be suspended for this academic year,” said Maurin.

Those suspended requirements include a college student’s continuous enrollment status and earned hours for the 2019-2020 school year, too. Governor Edwards also suspended the requirement that a high school senior must achieve a qualifying score on the ACT no later than April of their year of high school graduation.

For more COVID-19 questions and answers from LOSFA, click here.

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