Managing Student Loans

Single parents are more frequently considering returning to education to pursue a college degree in hopes of better opportunities in the future. Education is available to all, regardless of financial background, but often single parents are one of the most financially disadvantaged groups when it comes to balancing education with both a home and family.

Many states have introduced initiatives which help students who are struggling financially to attend college, through a number of excellent programs. However Louisiana has made little headway in this regard in comparison to other states, and has no in state loan forgiveness program excepting one which is available to those who go on to become health professionals.

LOSFA is the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Aid and it has some details about the Louisiana TOPS program. This is the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students which is one of state scholarships for Louisiana residents who attend one of Louisiana’s public universities or colleges. Currently LOSFA has no information on grants available within the state, thus the potential student would be best advised to check for updates or to contact directly the financial aid officers at the institutions which are under consideration for application. The financial aid officers at most colleges and universities are a veritable source of information regarding grants available.

In addition it may be worth contacting The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in Louisiana for further direction as to where grants and financial aid may be sourced, although the board itself concentrates primarily on schooling within Louisiana rather than on post secondary institutions of learning.

The single parent college student in Louisiana should make early application through the FAFSA form for available federal Pell grants which are means based. In addition the FAFSA submission allows application for the federal Stafford loans which are now administered by the US department of education. Often submission of the FAFSA form will make students automatically eligible for other grants, but Louisiana students should clarify if there are such grants available in state with the individual colleges.

The federal Stafford loans are available in two forms, subsidized and unsubsidized. They are means based and not subject to credit checks. In addition there is the Federal Perkins loan available to those with the greatest financial need and this is a fixed rate low interest loan which has a similar low rate to the Stafford subsidized loan.

It is advisable for Louisiana single parent students to seek as much information as they can at the earliest to find out if there are other eligible grants which they may qualify for. It would appear that within the State of Louisiana the best source of information is likely to be the individual colleges rather than state sources.