NerdWallet’s Guide to Financial Aid Programs in Texas
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The Lone Star state is home to top schools, including The University of Texas at Austin, Rice University and Texas A&M University.
Texas has several programs that can lower the cost of earning a college degree, including tuition waiver programs, scholarships and grants. And for recent graduates, there are some student loan repayment programs that may help you pay off your debt faster.
The cost of education in Texas
In Texas, there are 37 public universities and 38 private schools. Generally, Texas public schools and community colleges are less expensive than the national average, but that’s not the case for private schools.
Here’s how much college in Texas costs, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics:
Public four-year school, in-state: The cost of tuition and room and board at public universities in Texas is $18,325 per year — about 14% lower than the national average.
Private nonprofit school: The average cost of room and board and tuition at private nonprofit universities in Texas is $49,884 per year — about $3,500 higher than the national average.
Community college, in-state: Community college in Texas is less expensive than in many other states. The average annual cost is $2,828 — 19% less than the national average.
Financial aid options in Texas
Many Texas financial aid programs are limited to qualifying residents. You must be a resident of Texas for at least 12 months to qualify for in-state tuition and state aid.
In Texas, undocumented students, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students, can qualify for in-state tuition and state-based financial aid if they meet the following requirements:
Graduated from a public or private high school in Texas.
Resided in Texas for at least three years as of the date of graduation or receiving a high school diploma or its equivalent.
Provide an affidavit stating that the individual will file an application to become a permanent resident at the earliest opportunity.
Texas offers the following programs to qualifying students:
In-state tuition network and waivers.
Student loan repayment assistance.
If you are a parent or relative planning for a child’s future, a 529 plan can be a useful tool. In Texas, there are two 529 options:
Texas College Savings Plan: The Texas College Savings Plan is a 529 investment account you can use to save for your child’s college. You can open an account with $25, and the maximum you can have in the fund is $500,000 — a higher amount than most states offer.
Texas Tuition Promise Fund: The Texas Tuition Promise Fund is a prepaid tuition plan. It allows you to purchase college credits at today’s rates, and your child can redeem them to pay for school later. You can open an account during the state’s open enrollment period only, which lasts from Sept. 1 through the last day of February each year. You can enroll children who are less than 1 year old until July 31.
Although some states offer extra incentives or tax benefits for 529 plan contributions, Texas does not.
In-state tuition network and waivers
Texas participates in networks that may allow residents to attend school in another state and still pay in-state rates.
Academic Common Market: Students planning to enroll in specialized fields of study may qualify for in-state tuition if their selected school participates in the Academic Common Market. Participating schools are in the following states:
Bordering States Waiver: The Bordering States Waiver allows non-resident students from neighboring states to qualify for Texas in-state tuition. Eligible states include Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma. These neighboring states may also allow Texas students to attend their universities at a reduced rate.
Grants are a valuable type of financial aid because they don’t have to be repaid. They’re typically awarded based on financial need, and there are several grant programs in Texas.
Education and Training Voucher Program for foster youth in Texas
The Education and Training Voucher Program is for current and former foster youth working toward a professional credential or degree. It provides up to $5,000 per year until the student’s 23rd birthday.
Texas Educational Opportunity Grant Program
Texas Educational Opportunity Grant Program is for students enrolled at public two-year schools. Award amounts vary, but the maximum amount available for the 2023-2024 academic year is $3,940. To qualify, students must be Texas residents, be enrolled at least half-time and have demonstrated financial need.
Tuition Equalization Grant
The Tuition Equalization Grant is a program for students with financial need who enroll at a private, nonprofit institution within the state. Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for consideration, and awards range from $3,497 to $5,246.
Texas Public Educational Grant Program
Texas residents, non-residents and foreign students with financial need may qualify for the Texas Public Educational Grant. The award is granted by public colleges and universities at the school’s discretion, and award amounts vary.
Toward Excellence, Access and Success Grant Program
The Toward Excellence, Access and Success Grant Program provides aid to Texas residents attending Texas public schools or health-related institutions. Qualifying students can receive up to $5,379 per semester.
Like grants, scholarships don’t have to be repaid. Texas has multiple merit-based scholarship programs:
Fifth Year Accounting Student Scholarship Program
The Fifth Year Accounting Student Scholarship aims to increase the number of professional accountants in the state. Eligible accounting students who intend to take the certified public accountant examination in Texas can qualify for up to $5,000 in financial aid.
Good Neighbor Scholarship Program
The Good Neighbor Scholarship Program provides financial aid to students from other countries in the Western Hemisphere (other than the U.S. or Cuba) attending a Texas public college or university. The award provides up to 12 months of tuition.
License Plate Insignia Scholarship
Texas residents who demonstrate need through the FAFSA and are enrolled in participating schools can qualify for the License Plate Insignia Scholarship. The amount of available award money varies.
Texas Armed Services Scholarship Program
The Texas Armed Services Scholarship Program promotes military membership. It is based on academic merit, and students must be appointed by a state representative, state senator, the governor or the lieutenant governor. The award gives students up to $10,000 to pay for school.
Other financial aid programs in Texas
Texas has a longer-than-typical list of financial aid programs beyond scholarships and student loans. Available programs include:
Tuition or fee exemptions.
Tuition or fee exemptions
Some Texas residents can attend a public college or university without paying tuition or, in some cases, tuition or fees. Requirements for exemptions vary by program, so research each individually. Here is a list to get you started:
Texas College Work-Study
The Texas College Work-Study program is administered by the state. Through the program, qualifying students are offered part-time jobs to offset their education costs. Students at public or private colleges can qualify for the state work-study program based on financial need as determined by their FAFSA.
The tuition rebate program provides up to $1,000 as a rebate to students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree within four calendar years. For programs in engineering, students have up to five years to complete their degree and earn the rebate.
Texas student loan programs
Texas operates two state student loan programs:
Future Occupations & Reskilling Workforce Advancement to Reach Demand Loan Program: The FORWARD program provides alternative educational loans for students pursuing degrees or certifications in specific programs in nursing, teaching, technology, transportation or energy. Students can borrow up to the total cost of attendance, and the interest rate is fixed at 3.35%.
College Access Loan: The CAL program is an alternative loan for students who cannot meet the total cost of attendance. Eligible students can borrow up to 100% of the school’s certified cost of attendance, and the interest rate is fixed at 5.35%.
Note: Programs, award amounts and eligibility requirements can change. For the latest information, visit CollegeForAllTexans.com.
Student loan repayment programs in Texas
If you are a Texas resident and have existing student loans, your employment may qualify you for student loan repayment assistance. Texas has programs for health care professionals, teachers and other workers.
Loan Repayment Program for Mental Health Professionals
Psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers and other licensed mental health professionals may qualify for the Loan Repayment Program for Mental Health Professionals. To qualify, professionals must agree to provide services under medical assistance programs throughout the state. Eligible professionals can receive up to $160,000 in total assistance.
Math and Science Scholars Loan Repayment Program
Teachers of math or science who commit to teaching in a Title I public school in Texas are eligible for the Math and Science Scholars Loan Repayment Program. The annual award is $10,000, and the program can repay both federal and private loans.
Nursing Faculty Loan Repayment Assistance Program
Qualified nurses who commit to working as faculty members at eligible institutions can qualify for up to $7,000 through the Nursing Faculty Loan Repayment Assistance Program. Both federal and private loans are eligible for the program.
Peace Officer Loan Repayment Assistance Program
Full-time peace officers in Texas are eligible for up to $4,000 per year in loan repayment benefits through the Peace Officer Loan Repayment Assistance Program. Participants can qualify for the program for up to five years, and receive up to $20,000 in benefits.
Physician Education Loan Repayment Program
The Physician Education Loan Repayment Program provides repayment assistance for physicians who work in designated high-need areas in Texas. The program is for the following specialties:
Family medicine/family practice.
General internal medicine.
Annual award amounts range from $30,000 to $60,000, and are based on the borrower’s loan balance and service term.
State Loan Repayment Program
The State Loan Repayment Program is for primary care providers who work in designated health care professional shortage areas. In exchange for committing to work for at least three years at an eligible site, providers can receive up to $25,000 per year.
Teach for Texas Loan Repayment Assistance Program
Teachers who teach in areas experiencing shortages of educators may qualify for the Teach for Texas Loan Repayment Assistance Program. Qualifying teachers can receive up to $2,500 per year of service.
Texas Access to Justice Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program
Administered by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, the Texas Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program is for recent law school graduates who work for Texas legal aid organizations. To qualify, you must work for a qualifying organization full-time and earn less than $80,000 per year. The yearly maximum you can receive in loan repayment benefits is $6,000.
How to apply for financial aid in Texas
To qualify for Texas’ financial aid programs, including grants, scholarships and work-study programs, complete these steps:
Check deadlines: Schools and programs will have different deadlines. Contact the college’s financial aid office to find out when you need to apply.
Fill out the FAFSA or Texas Application for State Financial Aid: Most awards require either the FAFSA or the TASFA. The TASFA is for students who aren’t eligible for federal financial aid and cannot fill out the FAFSA.
Check program requirements: Application requirements vary by program, so check each program’s website to see what materials are necessary. You can view each program and the documents you’ll need at CollegeForAllTexans.com.