16 Resources Louisiana Residents Should Know About Paying for College
When thinking about how to pay for college, a lot of people start to feel overwhelmed. This is understandable, since paying for college is a big task to take on. However, there are some steps you can take to relieve some of that stress.
Luckily, there are many resources available to Louisiana residents that can make the process a little bit easier. For example, there are federal, state, and private funding sources you can consider.
Are you ready to begin your college career? Let’s talk about the four steps all Louisiana residents should take to fund a college education.
Step 1: Apply for Federal Funding
The first step in any student’s financial aid process is filling out the FAFSA. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA can seem kind of confusing at first, but it is necessary for any student looking to receive aid.
Although the FAFSA can seem like a long, tedious form, it certainly has its benefits. Just by filling out the form, you will automatically be qualified for some aid such as federal grants, federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans, and some state grants.
Because FAFSA might be confusing to fill out the first time around, you can check out our step-by-step guide that will walk you through all of the questions.
It’s important to remember that some grants have application deadlines that you don’t want to miss, so the sooner you fill out your FAFSA, the better. You can even apply before you know which school you’ll be attending.
Step 2: Apply for State Funding and Scholarships
As we just mentioned, you will automatically be evaluated for eligibility for some grants and scholarships just by filling out the FAFSA.
When you get your financial aid letters from the colleges you’ve applied to, those schools will have looked at your FAFSA and automatically qualified you for certain state programs that are available to you.
But since FAFSA doesn’t cover all the forms of aid, it’s wise to do your own research to see what other programs might be available.
To begin your search on state funding, you may want to browse the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOFSA) website. If you click on the “Financial Aid 101” tab, you can find helpful information about state grants and work-study employment. They also have a College Knowledge Tool Kit dedicated to helping students understand how to plan and save for college.
Louisiana state grants include:
- Go Grant for nontraditional and low- to moderate-income students who need additional aid to afford the cost of attending college
- TOPS Tech Early Start provides up to $600 per academic year for any eligible 11th or 12th grade student attending a Louisiana public high school who wishes to also enroll for up to six credit hours per semester at a public or nonpublic college or at an approved training program
You can find out more about Louisiana state grants at Louisiana.grantwatch.com.
Along with state grants, Louisiana offers a number of scholarships to residents.
Louisiana scholarships include:
- Taylor Opportunity Programs for Students (TOPS) for Louisiana residents who attend either a Louisiana public college or university, schools that are part of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, Louisiana-approved proprietary and cosmetology schools, or institutions that are a part of the Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
- Rockefeller State Wildlife Scholarship for students pursuing a degree in forestry, wildlife, or marine science at a Louisiana Public College or University
More information about Louisiana state scholarships can be found here.
Step 3: Apply for Institutional, Local, and National Scholarships
If you’re a high school student, be sure to regularly check in with your guidance counselor for updates on local scholarships. These scholarships will also most likely be posted on your guidance counselor’s bulletin board or on his or her website.
Another smart option is to do your own searches online. There are lots of different scholarships available for all different types of people, you just have to find them. You can search online by major, scholarships for women, sports scholarships, etc.
You can also check out the websites of Louisiana colleges or call their financial aid offices for more information.
CollegeScholarships.com offers a variety of scholarships to Louisiana residents.
Another good resource for scholarship hunting is Sallie Mae's Scholarship Search. This is a scholarship database that is constantly updated with new scholarships.
Big Future by College Board is another resource for scholarships. There, you can find scholarships and other forms of aid from more than 2,200 programs. Big Future can also be a helpful resource in the process of picking a major or even choosing a career.
Step 4: Apply for a Private Loan
If you’ve exhausted your options between grants, scholarships, and federal loans, a private loan might be able to provide you with the needed remaining difference.
Before taking out any Louisiana private loan, check out our free NitroScore tool. It can help you decide if a private loan is the right move for you.
Simply enter a college and a major, and the tool will tell you your total costs, salary after graduation, and a score that tells you how easy or difficult it’ll be to pay off your loans.
You can customize the results with different factors such as scholarships, grants, and savings, and you can even compare different colleges and majors.
From there, you can find out which of our highly trusted loan partners can give you the best rate.
There are many resources available to Louisiana residents to help fund a college education. You can’t start the process too soon, so start planning for college today.