DATE:              March 28, 2000
CONTACT:     Gus Wales
PHONE:           225-922-2029
FAX:                 225-922-0790

Certain TOPS Applicants May Submit An Abbreviated FAFSA Form

    The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) today clarified that some students applying for the Tuition Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) may submit an abbreviated Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This abbreviated filing enables applicants to be considered only for TOPS without having to disclose financial information which is required to qualify for federal student aid. However, before using this version of the form, students must comply with state law by first ensuring that they are ineligible for federal Pell Grants. 

    TOPS applicants who do not qualify for federal grant aid have the option of completing only selected sections of the FAFSA to apply solely for TOPS. The final deadline for receipt of either the full or abbreviated FAFSA is July 1, 2000. For priority consideration, the application must be postmarked by April 15, 2000.

    To determine whether a student qualifies for federal aid, families should use Fin Aid's Financial Aid Estimation Calculator, which can be accessed through LOSFA’s Web site ( by clicking on the Scholarship/Grant section. The calculator may also be reached directly on the Internet at  Select Financial Aid Estimation under the "Needs Analysis" heading, complete the form provided and click the "Calculate" option. The Financial Aid Estimation Calculator provides complete anonymity because it does not require the user to divulge their identity and the data entered is not retained.

    Once a student is found ineligible for federal grant aid, an abbreviated FAFSA may be submitted. The abbreviated version of the FAFSA may only be submitted in paper form. On the FAFSA for school year 2000-2001, only the following questions need to be answered (Questions not answered must be left blank. Do not fill them in with zeros.):

    The Louisiana Student Financial Assistance Commission (LASFAC) encourages students to complete all questions on the FAFSA, which will ensure consideration for all federal and state aid programs. A TOPS award covers only tuition at state public institutions, or partial tuition for students attending certain private colleges within Louisiana. Other forms of aid are often essential for a student to pursue their postsecondary education. Students submitting the abbreviated FAFSA will NOT qualify for any form of federal aid including Federal Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Work Study, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Stafford Loans (subsidized and/or unsubsidized) and Federal PLUS (parent) Loans. Furthermore, in the event of a budgetary shortfall, the legislature has stipulated that those students who failed to provide financial data on their application will be the FIRST denied a TOPS award.

    Finally, students who chose to submit an abbreviated FAFSA are advised that they will receive a Student Aid Report notifying them that their application has been rejected and that they are ineligible for federal aid. This notice should be disregarded as it has no effect on TOPS eligibility.