High school seniors reminded to check TOPS award before graduation
The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) is reminding high school seniors to take steps now, before they graduate, to make sure there are no delays when the office begins processing 2019 graduates for TOPS (Taylor Opportunity Program for Students) eligibility.
“If students don’t make sure all their information is correct before they graduate, it can cause problems when it’s time to pay for college,” said Paula Smith, student financial aid administrator in LOSFA’s Scholarships & Grants Division.
Smith helps determine which students are eligible for a TOPS award. Processing for TOPS eligibility begins in June.
Common mistakes include: incorrect social security numbers on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), nicknames and incorrect birth year on ACT/SAT scores.
Smith says many times there may be an issue with a student’s transcript or there may not be a parental consent on file at the high school. If the problem is not corrected before the counselor leaves for summer break, the student must wait until August when the counselor returns before they can be processed for TOPS eligibility.
“When the fee bills go out and there’s no TOPS credit, then students ask ‘Well how am I going to pay for college?’ That’s usually when they contact us,” Smith said.
“We encourage students to set up a Student Hub account, so they can track their TOPS status – from initial eligibility all the way through their post-secondary studies,” said Ebony Holmes, public information and communications supervisor. “If they don’t see any data in their Student Hub, chances are there’s a problem and we don’t have any parental consent.”
Smith adds, if a student does not receive any notification about TOPS eligibility/awarding by the end of July, they need to contact LOSFA.
LOSFA has a list of 10 tips to make sure there are no TOPS processing delays.
1. Make sure your name is exactly the same on all documents (school transcript, ACT, FAFSA). If the student’s name is John Alan Smith, Jr., do not use John A. Smith Jr., on one document and John Alan Smith on another. The date of birth and address should also be the same on all documents/applications.
2. Include LOSFA’s ACT TOPS code: 1595 or the SAT TOPS code: 9019 on all ACT/SAT registrations. The student should use their personal email address when registering. The email address should also match the email used on the FAFSA.
3. Public school students should make sure their school has a parent-signed Consent Form on file. The Consent Form allows LOSFA to access the student’s transcript data.
4. Students should make sure they have taken the 19 units that make up the TOPS Core Curriculum or the courses that make up the TOPS Tech Jumpstart Curriculum.
5. Student should be aware, TOPS eligibility is based on the TOPS Core Curriculum GPA. LOSFA does not look at the overall GPA. Students need at least a 2.50 GPA to be TOPS eligible. GPA’s are not rounded up.
6. Both the student and parent must have created an FSA ID to electronically sign the FAFSA.
7. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the primary TOPS application. Students who do not qualify for federal aid can choose to complete the TOPS Online Application.
8. For TOPS Tech eligible students, a qualifying WorkKeys score of Silver and above must be submitted to LOSFA by the student or their high school.
9. Follow LOSFA on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) for TOPS information throughout the year.
10. Students should create a LOSFA Student Hub account to monitor their award status and to track TOPS eligibility throughout their post-secondary studies.