Louisiana high school students receive an education that takes them on one of two paths: post-secondary studies or the workforce. Following several reports about students at Block High School in Jonesville, Louisiana, protesting conditions they felt were not preparing them for college - due to lack of supplies and a need for certified teachers - staff at the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance offered help.
LOSFA’s goal is to provide students with opportunities and initiatives that promote college access, to successfully prepare them for their college and beyond.
“I’m glad LOSFA stepped in,” said Michael Norris, a senior at Block High. “I used to be embarrassed to be a Block High student, but now I feel like people are listening to us and we’re getting what we need.”
Through the agency’s field outreach services, LOSFA is able to increase the number of low-income students who are aware of and prepared to enter a post-secondary institution and succeed.
LOSFA has hosted seminars at Block High on TOPS (Louisiana's merit-based scholarship) and the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), in order to help students understand the resources available to help pay for college, whether they choose a 2-year or 4-year institution.
“They showed us how to apply to more than one college and how to find scholarships,” Norris said. “I started searching last night.”
“There’s a lot that people (students) don’t know,” added Aubrie Hord, also a senior at Block.
Hord says she is one of the students who was unaware of the many options available to help cover college costs.
“I want to study pre-med and be a radiologist. I’m looking at going to ULM or LSU, or Grambling. Now I have information that I didn’t have before to know how I can afford it.”
Unlock My Future
website, outreach staff are working with students on college access and career planning. This match and fit tool helps identify what is best for each students' individual needs by answering five key questions:
- What am I good at? (Skill/Interest/Aptitude Match)
- Can I get in? (Academic Match)
- Can I afford it? (Cost of Choice Match)
- Who gets me? (Social/Emotional Match)
- Will I stay or will I go? (Retention Match)
“We want to make sure they receive guidance about their best postsecondary college match,” said Dr. Sujuan Boutte, LOSFA’s executive director. “Our job is to provide students and their families with information and resources so they know which type of college is best for them, and how to maximize gift aid and minimize loan debt.”
The agency also took 44 of the school's 11th and 12th grade students to Grambling State University, where they saw the LOSFA's Financial Literacy for You (FLY) Tour. The F
LY Tour is a theatrical performance highlighting the college admissions process, the importance of the FAFSA, and becoming eligible for TOPS.
Staff at the school requested that LOSFA continue their outreach and support by hosting FAFSA Completion workshops in March to assist senior students and their parents with starting, correcting or finishing the FAFSA - the application for federal aid which includes the Pell Grant, work-study, and loans. The FAFSA is also the application for TOPS.
“I’ve learned so much,” said Norris. “Without them, I’d be lost.”
On Wed., March 6, outreach staff will also assist seniors at Block to complete and pay for college applications.