What is the TOPS program?

The Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, or TOPS, offers merit-based financial awards to Louisiana residents. Award amounts at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University are based on the weighted average of tuition at comparable public schools. The semester award amounts are listed below.

Opportunity Award: $2,859

Performance Award: $3,059 ($2,859 + $200 stipend)

Honors Award: $3,259 ($2,859 + $400 stipend)

To be eligible for TOPS, full-time enrollment is required (defined as 12 credit hours per semester at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University). Students planning to enroll less than full time as defined above should contact the Office of Financial Aid to discuss their reason for enrolling less than full time and how their TOPS eligibility will be affected.

If you’re a clinical student, you must enroll in nine hours each fall/spring semester to be considered eligible for TOPS. The Office of Financial Aid will automatically bill the state for TOPS-eligible clinical students enrolled in at least nine hours. Clinical students are not required to earn 24 hours in an academic year. TOPS will be prorated based on the number of hours enrolled in clinicals.

Per regulations, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University bills the state for TOPS payments on the 15th class day for eligible full-time students. The funds typically arrive mid-semester and are applied directly to students’ accounts in the Bursar’s Office. Because fee bill payments are due prior to the arrival of TOPS funds, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University places an anticipated TOPS credit on the fee bill for students who have been determined eligible by the state or, in some cases, who have indicated to the Office of Financial Aid that they expect to receive TOPS funding.

Some students who receive an anticipated TOPS credit may be determined ineligible for the TOPS program by the state. These students will be responsible for paying any charges to which the anticipated TOPS credit was applied. If you do not see an anticipated TOPS credit on your fee bill, but think you will be receiving TOPS, please contact the Office of Financial Aid.

Retention requirements for the TOPS program include:

  • Continuous full-time enrollment, defined as full time enrollment each fall and spring semester.

  • Full-time enrollment through the 14th class day of each fall and spring semester.

  • Earning 24 hours each academic year, defined as the fall, spring and summer semesters.
    • Clinical students who enroll full time per institutional definition are not required to meet the 24 hour requirement.

TOPS students must also maintain academic progress, defined as:

  • Opportunity Award 2.30 GPA, if the student has earned less than 48 hours.
    • 2.50 if the student has earned 48 hours or more.

  • Performance Award** 3.00.

  • Honors Award** 3.00.

Cumulative GPAs are checked at the end of each spring semester.

*Please note Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University awards +/- grades, but these are not recognized by the state TOPS office. Quality points are assigned to grades as follows.

  • A 4 quality points per credit hour.

  • B-, B, B+ 3 quality points per credit hour.

  • C-, C, C+ 2 quality points per credit hour.

  • D-, D, D+ 1 quality point per credit hour.

  • F 0 quality points.

**Performance or Honors Award recipients who fail to maintain a 3.00 cumulative GPA at the end of an academic year will revert to the Opportunity Award provided they have maintained the GPA necessary for renewal at that level. Once the recipient reverts to the Opportunity Award, the Performance or Honors Award CANNOT be reinstated.

At the end of all other terms, steady academic progress, defined as a 2.00 cumulative GPA, must be maintained. Failure to meet one of the

What is FAFSA? When should I submit it, and what should I do after?

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You should submit your FAFSA as soon as possible to ensure that your application will be processed in time. The FAFSA becomes available each year on October 1. (The Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University school code for the FAFSA is 031062.)

By completing the FAFSA, you are applying for all Federal Title IV programs, including the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Fed Direct Loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized), Parent Plus Loans (PLUS) and Graduate PLUS loans (GPLUS). The FAFSA is also the application for other aid, such as Louisiana’s Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) and certain scholarships that require financial need.

After submitting your FAFSA, a copy is provided electronically to the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University Office of Financial Aid. Our Office will notify you via email of the documentation you are required to provide.

If you have been selected by the U.S. Department of Education for a process called verification, you will be required to submit additional documentation to the FranU Office of Financial Aid. This may include but is not limited to copies of Federal tax returns, verification worksheets, W-2s, etc.

All students will be required to submit the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University Financial Aid Data Form. This form is to be submitted, upon request, to the Office of Financial Aid at FranU, not to the Federal processor. Your financial aid will not be complete until you have submitted the required documents.

Do I need to reapply each year?

YES! Each year you must refile either the FAFSA or the Renewal FAFSA for the appropriate academic year. You must also maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in order to qualify for aid each year. Please refer to the Satisfactory Academic Progress regulations for more information.

How can I figure out how much it costs to attend FranU?

Use the Tuition and Fee Calculator to determine specific per-semester costs.

Tuition is charged by credit hour for all programs of study. The tuition rate is determined by course type. Fees are charged per credit hour or per semester, depending on the fee. Tuition and fees are assessed at the time a student registers for courses.

Do I need to be admitted to FranU before applying for financial aid?

No, you may apply for financial aid any time after October 1. However, you must be admitted to receive a financial aid award and enrolled to receive disbursement.

Am I allowed to fax verification documents to the Office of Financial Aid?

Yes! We are more than happy to accept faxed documents at (225) 526-1632. Please make sure all faxed documents are signed and the student’s name is clearly indicated on all documents.

Once I have accepted my award package, is there anything that could change or affect my award?

Yes — any changes in enrollment may affect your financial aid eligibility. If you have financial aid and are considering canceling registration, dropping courses or resigning, contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Student Aid before doing so. You will be advised as to how your aid will be affected, which will help you to make a wise decision.

What happens to my financial aid if I resign from the University?

Federal regulations require schools participating in Title IV programs to use specific refund policies when a student who receives Title IV aid ceases enrollment. When an official withdrawal occurs, federal aid awards (except Federal Work-study) may be prorated as follows: the number of calendar days completed during the semester divided by the number of days in the semester. An adjustment will not be made for a student that withdraws after 60% of the semester has passed. If funds are released to a student because of a credit balance on the student's account and the student later withdraws, then he/she may be required to repay some of the federal aid released. Students are encouraged to check with our office before resigning to determine how their aid would be affected.

Students who leave the University, whether officially or unofficially, and who plan to return, should contact the OFA to determine if they have financial aid eligibility for the semester they are planning to return. If students are planning to return in the next Fall semester, a new FAFSA must be completed before eligibility can be determined.

It is strongly suggested that all students who have financial aid and are considering withdrawing from the University speak with a OFA counselor before completing the withdrawal process so all options can be considered.

If I have a non-traditional family structure, whose financial data should be used when Im completing the FAFSA?

If your natural parents are separated or divorced, use the natural parent with whom you lived the most in the past 12 months. If you lived with neither parent, or lived with each parent an equal number of days, use the parent that provided the most financial support to you over the past 12 months. If that parent has remarried, you must also include the step-parent’s financial information on the application, and parent and step-parent should report themselves as married on the FAFSA.

If your parents are divorced but filed a joint Federal tax return, when completing the FAFSA, only provide the income information from the tax return for the parent who qualifies as your responsible parent; your parent should then report divorced/separated on the FAFSA.

For those with step-parents, prenuptial agreements are ignored by the federal need analysis process. After all, two individuals (parent and step-parent) cannot make an agreement between them that is binding on a third party (the federal government).

The federal government considers the step-parent a source of support regardless of any prenuptial agreements to the contrary. If a step-parent marries the parent, he or she is considered responsible for supporting the parent and children even if he or she is unwilling to do so.

Do veterans benefits affect my financial aid eligibility?

No. The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), which reauthorized the Higher Education Act (HEA) and added new laws, removed veterans’ education benefits from estimated financial assistance, effective July 1, 2010.

What if I do not qualify for enough student financial aid to cover my tuition and fees?

The University offers an interest free payment plan. Please contact the Bursar’s Office for additional information.

If I take a leave of absence, do I have to start repaying my loans?

Not immediately. The Direct loans have a grace period of 6 months before repayment begins. When you take a leave of absence you will not have to repay your loan until the grace period is used up. If you use up the grace period, however, when you graduate you will have to begin repaying your loan immediately.

Am I required to enroll in a certain amount of hours to get student loans?

YES. You are required to be enrolled on at least a ½ time basis to be eligible for student loans. Six hours is considered ½ time for a fall or spring term for an undergraduate student. Three hours are considered ½ time for the summer term.

Why are federal student loans a better option for paying for college?

Federal student loans offer borrowers many benefits not typically found in private loans. These include lower interest rates, income-based repayment plans, and loan forgiveness and deferment options, including deferment of loan payments when a student returns to school. For these reasons, students and parents should always exhaust federal student loan options before considering a private loan.

How can I obtain information regarding my federal loan history?

You can get it by logging on to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). NSLDS is a database for federal student financial aid, where you can find out about the aid you’ve received. If you’ve only just applied for aid, you won’t find any information on NSLDS yet.

NSLDS receives data from schools, guaranty agencies and U.S. Department of Education programs. The NSLDS website is generally available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By using your student ID, you can get information on federal loan and Pell Grant amounts, outstanding balances, the status of your loans and disbursements made.