Southeastern Louisiana University is launching a scholarship program designed to assist students in finishing degree programs after their financial aid and/or scholarship eligibility runs out.

With an initial $10,000 donation from Whitney National Bank, the university announced the initiative — referred to as Completer Scholarships — to raise scholarship support for students who are in their fifth or sixth year of study and/or are within one year of graduation.

More than 80 percent of Southeastern students receive some form of financial aid, said vice president for University Advancement Wendy Lauderdale. After four years or eight semesters, those students lose their eligibility for TOPS and scholarships offered through the Southeastern Foundation.

She said research indicates most students take longer to attain an undergraduate degree for a variety of reasons: more than two-thirds of students are holding down jobs and approximately one-third are working more than 30 hours per week while attending college. Twenty percent are married, and 22 percent have young children for whom they are responsible. In addition, many of these students commute 30 or more miles to campus to attend classes.

The initiative will be funded through support from private, foundation and corporate philanthropic gifts.

For more information, contact the Southeastern Advancement Office at (985) 549-2239.