The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA Programs) will be providing services remotely in response to COVID-19.  Click here to learn more.  | Click here to view the TOPS Award amount for the 2020-2021 academic year. | To view a list of approved Proprietary and Cosmetology Schools where your TOPS Tech award can be applied, click here. | Click here to view the START End of the Year Deposits notice for 2020.

 

 

 

High school is one of the most critical times in your life. 

You are making new friends, maintaining your grades, and thinking about what’s next after high school graduation.

Our staff at LOSFA is here to help you navigate your way to success!

Welcome to My LOSFA College Advocate: A High Schoolers Guide to College

Throughout the year, we will share informational videos and checklists for each high school grade level to make your college admissions process more accessible.

Check out the high school timeline below and meet your advocates!

Meet your 9th Grade Advocate

Hey guys! My name is Isabel, but you can call me Izzy, and I will be representing the Freshman class! Tag along with me as we get through this first year of high school together! I know it’s going to seem like a whole new world compared to middle school, but it’s always good to hit the ground running as early as your 9th-grade year to create a strong start and even stronger finish!

  • 9th Grade Timeline
    • Utilize “Unlock My Future” LOSFA’s match-and-fit tool to help you with personal interests and career choices.
    • Participate in school-sponsored virtual College or Career Day browses and business and industry events to acquaint yourself with various career options.
    • Get involved in school and/or community-based activities that interest you.
    • Start a list of awards, honors, volunteer work, and extracurricular activities.
    • Talk to your school counselor or teachers about Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment classes and other challenging courses in core academic subjects.
    • Familiarize yourself with TOPS and other State Aid such as GO Grant and Federal Aid.
    • Research scholarships. LOSFA compiles a list of scholarships every month, found here.
    • Create a LOSFA Student Hub account and have your parents create a Parent Hub account starting in January,
    • “Like” LOSFA on social media (Facebook: @LOSFA, Instagram: @losfa001, Twitter: @LOSFA) to receive helpful information relating to college access, financial aid opportunities, and financial literacy advice.
    • Your parent(s) should make sure they are fully aware of the provisions of any college savings accounts, like the START 529 College Savings Plan, that they have opened for you.
    • If your school participates in the Louisiana GEAR UP program, connect with the activities offered by your school coordinator and assigned GEAR UP representative.

Meet your 10th Grade Advocate

Wassup, Guys! I’m Darren, and I’ll be looking out for the Sophomore class. You have completed your first year of high school and are no longer the new kids on the block! So, let’s keep going strong during your second year! Remember to keep an eye out for me for important tips, advice, and resources that you should be aware of this school year!

  • 10th Grade Timeline
    • Have a conversation with your school guidance counselor to learn about various postsecondary education options.
        • Take the practice Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT\NMSQT) and the ACT Aspire Exam.
        • Continue to participate in any virtual college and career events.
        • Educate yourself about ways to pay for college, such as grants, scholarships, work-study and loans. Explore any state-based grants, such as the Louisiana GO Grant, and familiarize yourself with the qualifications and application deadlines for these financial aid opportunities.
        • Continue to use the LOSFA Student Hub to update your accomplishments and achievements and monitor your progress toward meeting graduation, college admission and scholarship qualification requirements.
        • Identify your areas of interest and potential career paths by using the tools provided atunlockmyfuture.org.
        • Begin researching postsecondary options (4-year college, community and/or technical college, etc.) that best fit your needs and compare them by location, size, program offerings, and cost.
        • Visit the websites of various colleges and universities of interest and speak to representatives in admissions and financial aid, as well as department faculty and staff.

Meet your 11th Grade Advocate

Hey! I’m John! Juniors, you are halfway through your high school experience. It’s time to make sure you are getting ready for your senior year and life after graduation. Just because you’re not seniors yet doesn’t mean that you can relax. With my help, I’ll make sure you enter your senior year with confidence and are prepared to make good decisions about your future!

  • 11th Grade Timeline
    • Take the ACT and PSAT exams. Remember that deadlines for registering for these tests during the Fall and Spring are usually three to four weeks before the actual test date.
    • Upload any photo requirements for the ACT and PSAT before the deadline.
    • Continue to explore career choices and their earning potential.
    • Participate in virtual college fairs and college preparation events hosted by college representatives.
    • Utilize free scholarship search engines to identify college scholarship opportunities. Some scholarship application deadlines are during the summer between the 11th and 12th-grade year.
    • Explore what state and federal government financial aid might be available.
    • Continue to get involved in after school activities and aspire to leadership roles.
    June – July
    • Investigate careers of interest.
      • Consider subjects you do well in and enjoy. Talk to your parents, guidance counselor, and other adults about the careers that interest you. Many resources are available on the Unlock My Future website.
      • Find connections through family, friends, teachers, counselors, and leaders in the community who work in the careers that interest you. Ask them about their work. You will learn a lot about careers that would best suit you.
    • Make a list of important factors.
      • Think about what factors are the most important to you when considering your future college. Some examples are the cost of attendance, programs of study, school size, class size, city and neighborhood, campus culture, distance from home, extracurricular activities, and religious affiliation.
    • Research colleges using the tools available on the Unlock My Future website.
      • Based on what you’ve learned about careers and your interests, look for colleges with programs to help you achieve your goals. Search for your program interests using online resources. Take note of which colleges offer the kinds of programs you want.
    • Make a list of prospective colleges.
    • Request materials.
      • Go online or call the colleges to request catalogs and financial aid materials.
    • Narrow your list.
      • Based on what you’ve learned, narrow your list of schools. If possible, rank your colleges in order of preference.
    August
    • If applicable, enroll in TOPS Tech Early Start (TTES) courses for the fall semester.
    • Ensure that you will graduate.
      • Look at your high school’s graduation requirements and compare your credits. Make sure you will graduate on time. The easiest way to do so is by checking your Individual Graduation Plan against your TOPS Tracker report in LOSFA’s Student Hub.
    • Research private scholarship and grant opportunities.
      • This information is available at your high school guidance office, local public library, civic and professional organizations and free scholarship searches.
    • Continue to identify your areas of interest and potential career paths.
    • Follow your progress toward eligibility for the TOPS scholarship.
      • The TOPS Tracker feature on LOSFA’s Student Hub records the courses you take during the academic year.
    October
    • Take the PSAT/NMSQT.
      • Take these tests to practice taking admissions tests and establish your eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship Program, the National Achievement Scholarship Program, and/or the National Hispanic Recognition Program, and additional scholarship programs.
    • Make a list of college and university entrance requirements.
      • Look up the minimum acceptance requirements for first-year students at your top colleges, such as grade point average, high school subject credits, and standardized test scores.
    • Talk with your parents about your college plans and finances.
      • Become more specific about how you and your parents can finance your plans. Compare the costs of attending the schools that interest you.
    • Contact your guidance counselor.
      • After your PSAT/NMSQT scores come in, schedule a phone call or virtual meeting. Have your list of entrance requirements. Determine with the counselor if your list of colleges is reasonable or needs to be adjusted, and if your current and future high school classes are appropriate.
    January – June
    • As you learn more, narrow your college list even more.
      • Continue to participate in college events and, if possible, schedule individual sessions with representatives from your top colleges to learn more about their programs.
    • Take the ACT and/or SAT.
      • If these tests are required for your list of colleges, register and take them. (Enter the proper code so that LOSFA receives your scores)
    • Take achievement tests.
      • Take these in May or June if the colleges that you are considering require them.
    • Start preparing portfolios, audition tapes, writing samples, or other evidence of talent.
      •  List your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, community service involvement and employment history.
    July – August
    • Request information.
    • Contact the colleges that interest you and request admissions procedures and financial aid information.

Meet your 12th Grade Advocate


I’m Kayla, and I’ll be representing the Seniors. What’s up, class of 2021?! Graduation is right around the corner, and there’s still a lot to get done. From getting that ACT score you’re aiming for, writing college essays, completing your FAFSA, and submitting college applications, senior year is going to be hectic, but I’ve got your back!

  • 12th Grade Timeline
    • Starting October 1, complete and submit your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon as possible. After submitting this application, you should receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). Quickly make any necessary corrections identified in the report and submit it to the FAFSA processor.
    • Well before the college application deadlines, ask your counselor and teachers to submit required documents such as transcript and letters of recommendation to the colleges and universities of your choice.
    • Submit college applications and other institutional financial aid applications to those institutions in which you are interested.
    • Review your college acceptances and compare the colleges’ financial aid offers.
    • Utilize LOSFA’s “5 Point Match” tool to learn how to select the college or university that will be best for you.
    • When you decide which school you want to attend, notify the school of your commitment, and submit any required financial deposit. Most schools require notification and deposit by May 1.
    • Continue to update your accomplishments and achievements and monitor your progress toward meeting graduation, college admission, and scholarship qualification requirements.
    • Follow your progress toward eligibility for the TOPS scholarship using the TOPS Tracker feature in LOSFA’s Student Hub.
    September
    • Review your plans with your guidance counselor.
      • Discuss your grades and test results from junior year.
    • Register to retake the ACT and/or SAT, if necessary.
      • You can take these tests as many times as you want, through the April national testing date of the year you will graduate from high school.
    • Finalize your list of the colleges that interest you.
      • Request admissions, housing, and financial aid information from each of these colleges.
    • Investigate financial aid.
      • Start investigating federal, state, college, and local financial aid opportunities.
    • Males – register with the U.S. Selective Service.
      • If you are a male, age 18-25, register with the U.S. Selective Service so you will be eligible for federal student aid. You can register online at www.sss.gov.
    • Begin requesting letters of recommendation from teachers/counselors, etc.
    • Register for an FSA ID.
      • Go to StudentAid.ed.gov to create your account. This account is called your FSA ID. It will serve as your e-Signature for the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you are a dependent student, a parent should also register at this time.
    October
    • October 1 is the first day you can file your FAFSA. You can submit it online at fafsa.gov or complete and mail your PDF FAFSA or paper FAFSA. You can also utilize the mobile app, My Student Aid, to complete the FAFSA on your electronic devices.
      • Submit the FAFSA in time to meet each college’s financial aid deadline. (These can vary and can be different than admissions deadlines.) Contact the financial aid offices at your colleges for more information. Louisiana’s priority FAFSA deadline is July 1, for the TOPS scholarships and all other scholarships administered by LOSFA.
      • The FAFSA is a graduation requirement for public high school students in Louisiana. If your school counselor requires verification of submission, please save and forward the confirmation page to your school counselor.
    • Look for your Student Aid Report (SAR). Your SAR is typically available within two weeks of filing you FAFSA. To access the SAR, log into your account at www.studentaid.gov.
      • Each college that you included on your FAFSA will receive a copy of your SAR.
    • Review the SAR.
      • Make any necessary changes and return the corrected form to the Department of Education. If you filed electronically, make corrections online.
      • Arrange in advance to talk to an admissions counselor, financial aid advisor, and professor in the academic department of your intended major. If you cannot visit the campus, the college’s Web site may contain an online tour.
    • Start drafts of your college essays.
    • Request high school transcripts.
      • You will need a high school transcript for each application you plan to submit.
    November
    • Identify references.
      • Ask if they will provide letters of recommendation for you.
    • Finalize portfolios, audition tapes, or writing samples.
      • If required, complete these for admissions or scholarships.
    • Schedule admissions interviews.
      • If your colleges require them, schedule these now.
    • Apply for private scholarships and grant programs.
    December
    • Follow up with your references.
      • Make sure they remembered to send in the forms if they are sent separately from your application.
    • Complete any revisions of all applications and essays.
      • Review them with a parent or guidance counselor.
    • Submit all revised, complete admissions and college academic scholarship applications before the holiday break.
      • Keep copies for your file. If you submit your applications online, verify receipt.
    January
    • Send your mid-year grades to the colleges of your choice.
    February
    • Confirm receipt of your information.
      • Check with your colleges to be sure they have received the information from your FAFSA and any revised ACT and/or SAT scores.
    March
    • Look for admissions responses from colleges.
    • Tie up loose ends.
      • If required, send any additional information to the colleges to complete the admissions and/or financial aid process.
    April
    • Review your award letters.
      • You should receive financial aid award letters from the colleges that have accepted you for admission. Review them with your parents or a trusted advisor. Be sure that you understand the terms and conditions that accompany each type of aid.
    • Weigh your options and make your decision.
    • Notify the colleges of your final decision.
      • Each college that accepted you for enrollment needs to know whether you plan to accept or decline its offer. Follow the colleges’ instructions to let them know your final decision.
    • Consider summer jobs to help with college costs.
    • The April National Test Date for the ACT is the last opportunity you have to achieve a qualifying score for the TOPS Performance and Honor Awards. Make sure you take this test if you have not already achieved your desired score for these award levels.
    May
    • Take Advanced Placement (AP) exams.
      • If you’d like to take AP exams or they are required for your colleges, take them in May.
    • Send in your financial aid forms.
      • Sign your financial aid award letter and any other items requiring your signature and return them. If you have questions, schedule an appointment with a financial aid officer. If you decide to accept a loan, understand all your rights and responsibilities before you and/or your parent’s sign.
    • Send letters of decline to financial aid offices.
      • If you have received financial aid award letters from colleges whose offers you have decided to decline, notify the financial aid office in writing because other students will need the aid you declined.
    • Arrange for housing and meals at the college you will attend.
      • If necessary, arrange for housing and a meal plan for the fall. Please pay any housing deposits before the college or university deadline. Failure to pay the deposit may result in forfeiture of any pre-arranged housing plans at the college or university.
    • Update the college on your financial aid situation.
      • Notify the financial aid office of any outside scholarships, grants, or other kinds of student aid from private sources you have received since you submitted your aid application.
    • Send your final transcript.
      • Your college will need confirmation of your graduation.
    June
    This is your last opportunity to achieve a qualifying score on the ACT National Test Date for the TOPS Opportunity and TOPS Tech Award Levels. Make sure you take this test if you have not already achieved your desire score for these award levels.
    July – August
    • Work and save.
      • Make a plan for saving a portion of your summer earnings.
    • Make a budget.
      • Prepare a budget for your freshman year in college.
    • Attend orientation at your new college.
      • Make plans to attend required summer orientation sessions at the college or via virtual events.

My College Advocate is a collective resource repository where you can find resources to be successful in college and in your career, all in one place.

Career Assessment & Exploration

BRCC Career CoachDiscover majors and in-demand careers and education based on your interests!
Career ShipA free online career exploration adventure for middle and high school students.
CDDQFree site designed to provide individual help in making career decisions. This assessment provides a framework for a systematic process for career decision-making and clarifies the source of decision-making difficulties.
Career Clusters Interest SurveyThis is a FREE survey to help match your interests to one of the 16 career clusters.
Career Planning ServicesEmbarking on a new career can be a stressful event at any stage of career development and the counseling process can help build confidence an ease anxiety during the transition. In addition, the process is helpful during the job search process with interview coaching, resume creation, decision making, and job search strategies. Why not let Career Planning Services, LLC assist you with achieving your career goals?
Human MetricsTry your traits before trying fate. 
Job ShadowAt Job Shadow you can read real interviews from people as they talk about the jobs they do and the careers they have. If you’re job hunting, trying to find the right career path or just plain curious you can read about and explore the different career options and shadow people’s jobs online.
My Next MoveWhat do you want to do for a living?
O*NetO*NET OnLine has detailed descriptions of the world of work for use by job seekers, workforce development and HR professionals, students, researchers, and more!
O*Net Interest ProfilerThe O*NET Interest Profiler can help you find out what your interests are and how they relate to the world of work. It can also help you decide what kinds of careers you might want to explore.
Type FocusTypeFocus is a leading developer of online personality type resources. Established in 1997, TypeFocus is currently used by organizations across the world, including schools, employment agencies, colleges, universities and corporations.
What Do You Like?What Do You Like, a career exploration tool for K-12 students, is powered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Development Process

My FutureMy Future is a resource that helps young adults explore thousands of civilian and military  careers, plus educational programs to learn new skills. 

Educational Information

CollegeNetCollegeNet allows users to browse information on colleges by various criteria, including geography, tuition, and enrollment. More than 500 college applications are available to be completed and submitted online. The site also includes financial aid and scholarship information.
Louisiana Workforce CommissionThis is Louisiana's virtual one-stop for job and labor market information.
Occupational Outlook HandbookThis is a guide to career information about hundreds of occupations!

Employment Trends

Labor Market Information State by StateLabor market information includes statistics on employment, wages, industries, and other factors affecting the world of work. The links from The Riley Guide take users to labor market information for the individual states so that data can be compared across states.
Bureau of Labor StatisticsThe Bureau of Labor Statistics is the principal fact-finding agency for the federal government in the broad field of labor, economics, and statistics. It provides data on employment, wages, inflation, productivity, and many other topics.
Success in the New EconomyWatch a compelling case for students to explore career choices early, make informed decisions when declaring their college education goal, and to consider technical skill acquisition, real-world application and academics (career technical programs) in tandem with a classic education.

Job Search

IndeedThis database is a compilation of most job postings culled from the Internet and provides an easily searched database by keyword and geographic area.
Simply HiredSimply Hired is a vertical search engine company based in Silicon Valley, and we're building the largest online database of jobs on the planet.
Career BuilderThis one-stop is a great resource with a wealth of information from how to begin a job search to what to do when land the job you want.
Louisiana Job ConnectionOur innovative matching system is designed to connect qualified job seekers with Louisiana job opportunities that best fit their skills and experience.
USA.govUSA.gov is an online database of government jobs.
Dress to ImpressNorth Dakota State University has several ideas for what to wear to an on interview. 

Young Adults

Career Center BRWhether you’re thinking of pursuing a degree or entering the workforce, these resources may help you define your goals and find the right opportunities. Also check out these tips on how to write a resume, including templates to get you started – look for the new graduate resume section.
Education nonprofit that provides college and career coaching for high school students.Education nonprofit that provides college and career coaching for high school students.
Careers in the MilitaryExplore career opportunities in the various branches of the military.
CheggListing of internship opportunities.
City Year AmeriCorps10-month program for young adults. Corp members provide individualized support to at-risk students and help establish positive learning environments in schools throughout America.
Job CorpsA free education and training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor that helps young people learn a career, earn a high school diploma or GED, and find and keep a good job. For eligible young people at least 16 years of age that qualify as low income, Job Corps provides the all-around skills needed to succeed in a career and in life.
EBSCOLearning Express School and Scholarship Finder.
East Baton Rouge Parish LibraryTools to search for colleges and financial aid opportunities. Access to the database is provided by the East Baton Rouge Parish Library for patrons.
Louisiana Works Youth PortalCareer planning resource. Includes self assessments, career exploration, information on training and apprentice programs, etc.
Khan Academy College Application GuideVideo tutorials on every aspect of the college admissions process.
Martha Wiseman Guidance ResourcesResources on subjects relevant to high school and college students.
Modern StatesThis nonprofit’s Freshman Year for Free program provides funding for students to earn one year of college credit at no cost, through CLEP and AP exams. The program covers the cost of online tutorials, study guides, and exam registration fees.
The Revolutionary ClubResources for finding work you love.
Union Training and ApprenticeshipsAFL-CIO website. Information about training programs and apprenticeships through labor unions.
U.S. Department of Education College Affordability and Transparency CenterInformation about how much it costs students to attend different colleges and about the rise in costs.
U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor StatisticsCareer exploration and planning for teens.
U.S. NavyCompare careers within the Navy based on your background and interests.
Way UpJobs and internships for college students and recent grads.