Financial Aid for College: First Steps

Deciding which college you want to attend is an exciting process! But it can also be stressful trying to figure out the best choice, how you’re going to pay for it, and the myriad details that may arise. So we’ve done some of the legwork for you with these first steps.

First off, make a list of the colleges you are considering and do some research. There are a number of factors that will impact your decision, but here are some fundamentals that will serve as a good baseline for your comparisons:

  • Tuition Expense
    • College for All Texans is a great resource for finding out the cost of tuition at any college or university in Texas.
  • Admissions Information and Deadlines
    • You can usually find these on a college’s website. Look for the keywords “Admissions” or “Prospective Students.” Once you know the application deadlines, you can check out Apply Texas to submit an application to each college you’re considering. While many colleges require an application fee, some (like McLennan Community College and Texas State Technical College) do not. Don’t underestimate the value of a free application to a school to which you’re even remotely interested in applying!
  • Financial Aid Information and Scholarship Deadlines
    • Again, the best place to look for this is the college’s website. Some colleges have priority scholarship deadlines as early as a year before your first semester there and require you to apply for scholarships before you even know if you’re accepted, so make sure and check early!

Remember that you can start looking for scholarships long before you’ve been accepted to a college, or even before you’ve submitted an application! Local scholarship information is sent to your high school counselors each year, and will often offer that information on your high school’s website.

You can also use several free resources online to search for other scholarships for which you might be eligible. Some of our favorites are FastWeb, Cappex, and Scholarships.com.

We’ll post more about federal and state financial aid in the future, but for now if you’d like more information about it you can visit the Department of Education’s website. And for an estimate of the aid for which you may be eligible, check out the FAFSA4caster.

If you’d like to learn more about financial aid, we here at the MAC Program are always happy to help. Feel free to email the program director Robbie Stabeno or program coordinator Sterling Moore with any questions you might have. If you’re looking to make an appointment with us, you can also call the MAC Program at (254) 752-9457 to set one up.

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