Applying for TOPS using the Abbreviated FAFSA Form

Tuition Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) Bulletin
March 27, 2000
As Indicated
DISTRIBUTION: Louisiana High School Principals and Counselors, City and Parish School Board Presidents, School Board Superintendents, College and University, Technical College and LAICU Chancellors, Financial Aid Offices and Business Offices, System Governance, Board of Regents, Department of Education, Louisiana Legislators, and Commission Members
TOPIC: Applying for TOPS using the Abbreviated FAFSA Form 

To assure that your Scholarship and Grant Policy and Procedure Manual remains current, please record this document on your TOPS Bulletin index and retain it with your manual.

The Louisiana Student Financial Assistance Commission (LASFAC) encourages applicants to complete all questions on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which assures they will be considered for all federal and state aid to which they are entitled. However, state law authorizes and the LASFAC permits a family to omit the disclosure of personal financial information on the application when the applicant’s sole purpose is to apply for an award under the Tuition Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS). Accordingly, the LASFAC is providing instructions by which applicants may be considered for a TOPS award without having to disclose financial information on the FAFSA, provided that applicants previously determine themselves ineligible for federal grant aid.

Rules of the LASFAC (Louisiana Administrative Code, Title 28, Part IV, Chapter 7, Section 703.A.3) provide for the following:

"§703. Establishing Eligibility

        A.     To establish eligibility for a TOPS Opportunity, Performance or Honors Award, the student applicant must meet all of the following

                *         *         *

                3.     Annually submit the completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or renewal FAFSA by the applicable state 
                        aid deadline defined in §503; and

                        a. Students who can demonstrate to LASFAC that they do not qualify for federal grant aid because of their family’s financial
                            condition are not required to complete those sections of the FAFSA related to the income and assets of the applicant and the
                            applicant’s parents;"

To assist families in determining whether they qualify for federal grant aid (required by Section 703.A.3.a, cited above) prior to using the abbreviated form of the FAFSA, software has been added to LOSFA’s Web Site which will calculate a family’s eligibility for federal grant aid. To access the calculator from the main menu on LOSFA’s home page, click on the Scholarship/Grant section. Then click on Tuition Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS). Then click on TOPS Abbreviated FAFSA Instructions. The calculator may also be accessed directly on the Internet at  Select "Financial Aid Estimation" under the "Needs Analysis" heading, complete the form provided and click the "calculate" option. You do not have to disclose your identity in using this self-help program and the data entered is not retained.

To only be considered for TOPS, the following questions on the 2000-2001 FAFSA must be answered:

        Step One - Questions 1 through 17 and 25 through 28
     Step Three - Questions 54 through 59
     Step Four - Questions 67 through 69
     Step Six - As applicable
     Step Seven - Questions 100 and 101

Students and families may only use the paper form when filing an abbreviated FAFSA and will not be considered for any Federal Title IV Aid Programs, which include 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. Also, in the event that funding appropriated to the TOPS program is inadequate to cover all awards, those who use this abbreviated format will be the first denied an award.

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 ignored, as it has no affect on TOPS eligibility.

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