What You Should Know about State Financial Aid Programs in Texas

Texas offers many programs to help students pay for college or technical schools. I am giving you a brief description of the programs offered for more information please refer to www.collegeforalltexans.com

 

Grant and Scholarship Programs

TEXAS Grant

The TEXAS Grant program is the largest state grant program and was established to make sure that well-prepared high school graduates with financial need could go to college.

To receive the TEXAS Grant Students Must:

  • Be enrolled at least three-quarter time in an undergraduate program at a public institution in Texas
  • Have graduated from a Texas high school
  • Completed the Recommended or Distinguished Achievement high school program (or its equivalent)
  • Enrolled in a degree or certificate program within 16 months from high school graduation or received an associate’s degree
  • Have an EFC of no more than $4620
  • Have not been convicted of a felony or crime involving a controlled substance

You can receive priority consideration for TEXAS Grant if you: (Not Required)

  • Meet the state priority deadline of March 15th for the FAFSA or TAFSA application
  • Have 12 hours of college credit through dual credit or AP courses
  • Graduated in the top 1/3 of your HS class or have a “B” average
  • Completed at least one math course beyond Algebra II

The financial aid department at your college will determine if the TEXAS Grant is part of your financial aid award.

Texas Educational Opportunity Grant Program (TEOG)

TEOG provides grant aid to students in Texas public two-year colleges.

To receive TEOG Students must:

  • Have graduated from a Texas high school
  • Have an EFC of no more than $2000
  • Be enrolled at least ½ time in an associate’s degree or certificate program
  • Have not been convicted of a felony or crime involving a controlled substance
  • Not already be receiving the TEXAS Grant

Note: Both the TEXAS Grant and TEOG are designed to cover your tuition at a state school however; maximum amounts are set up by the State each year. Also some colleges have a short form a student must complete to apply for these funds. CHECK YOUR COLLEGE LIST OF FINANCIAL AID FORMS TO DETERMINE IF SOMETHING FURTHER IS REQUIRED

Top 10% Scholarship Program

Typically, if funding is available, qualifying students who submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA) by a specific deadline, have financial need, and enroll fulltime in a Texas public college or university in the fall semester may be eligible to receive up to $2,000. Students who submit their FAFSA after this deadline are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until available funds have been spent.

To receive the scholarship top 10% students must:

  • Be a Texas resident and demonstrate financial need
  • Graduate from a Texas high school and enroll full time in a public 2 or 4 year college
  • FAFSA or TASFA must be processed and not in a REJECT status prior to March 15th (State priority deadline) and must be on file at the college or university
  • Complete the Recommended or Distinguished Achievement High School curriculum
  • Rank in the top 10% percent (as of his/her 7th semester or 6th if the college uses that semester for admissions)

These Grant and Scholarship programs all have individual renewal requirements so be sure to read all the details at www.collegeforalltexans.com

 

State Loan programs

Texas B-On-Time (BOT) Loan Program

The Texas B-On-Time Loan program is a zero-interest loan. Your college financial aid office will determine if you are eligible. If this loan is offered to you, the financial aid office will instruct you to complete an application and promissory note online.

Applicants must:

  • Be a TEXAS Resident
  • Graduate from a Texas high school under at least the recommended high school program or have received an associate’s degree from an eligible institution
  • Have completed the FAFSA and be eligible for Federal Student Aid
  • Enrolled full time in an undergraduate degree or certificate program in an eligible 2or 4-year public or private college or a public technical college.

Loan Forgiveness may be granted if a student meets these requirements:

  • Graduate with a cumulative GPA of at least a 3.0 within:
    • 4 years after they initially enroll
    • 5 years after they enroll if the degree is in architecture or engineering
    • 2 years after the date they enroll in a 2-year institution

OR

  • Graduate with a cumulative 3.0 GPA, with a total number of credit hours that are no more than 6 hours beyond what is required to complete the degree or certificate. (Hours earned by exam or dual credit are not included)

College Access Loan (CAL)

This loan is less popular and almost always requires a cosigner and very good credit rating.  For information on the specifics go to www.collegeforalltexans.com or talk to your financial aid office.

 

State Voucher Program for Foster Care Students

This program provides financial assistance to youth ages 16-23 to begin, continue or complete postsecondary education and training program.

These are a few details:

  • It can be used at any Texas public or private educational institution
  • The education and training voucher can be used to cover the cost of attendance (tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, child care and some personal expenses or $5,000 per year, whichever amount is less.
  • To apply contact the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services at (512) 438-3312, send an e-mail to TDFPS at agencyinfo@dfps.state.tx.us, or visit the TDFPS website at www.dfps.state.tx.us

 

Financial Aid Exemptions

Exemptions are a type of financial assistance allowing some Texas residents to attend a public college or university in Texas without paying tuition or, in some cases, tuition and fees.

Listed below are the exemption programs available to Texas residents:

  • Adopted Students Formerly in Foster or Other Residential Care
  • Blind/Deaf Student Exemption Program
  • Children of Disabled or Deceased Firemen, Peace Officers, Game Wardens, and Employees of Correctional Institutions
  • Combat Exemption for Children of Military Service Members
  • Concurrent Enrollment Waiver (Enrollment in Two Texas Community Colleges)
  • Educational Aide Exemption
  • Exemption for Highest Ranking High School Graduate
  • Exemption for Peace Officers Disabled in the Line of Duty
  • Exemption for Peace Officers Enrolled in Law Enforcement or Criminal Justice Courses
  • Exemption for Students Enrolled in Courses for Dual High School and College-Level Credit
  • Exemption for Students under Conservatorship of the Dept. of Family and Protective Services
  • Exemption for the Surviving Spouse and Minor Children of Certain Deceased Public Servants (Employees)
  • Exemption from Irrelevant Fees
  • Exemption of Out-of-District Fees for Certain Students Living Outside a Public Community/Junior College’s Taxing District
  • Exemption Program for Children of Professional Nursing Program Faculty and Staff
  • Exemption Program for Clinical Preceptors and Their Children
  • Fee Proration for Students Enrolled in Shorter than Average Terms
  • Firefighters Taking Fire Science Courses
  • Hazlewood Exemption (for Texas Veterans)
  • Military: Children of U.S. Military who are Missing in Action or Prisoners of War (MIA/POWs)
  • Military: Orphans of Texas Members of the U.S. Armed Forces or National Guard
  • Military: Texas National Guard Tuition Assistance Program
  • Senior Citizen, 55 or Older, Tuition Reduction Program
  • Senior Citizen, 65 or Older, Free Tuition for 6 Credit Hours
  • Senior Citizen, 65 or Older, Free Tuition for Auditing Classes
  • TANF Exemption Program
  • TAPS for Tuition Program
  • Tuition Reduction for Students Taking More than 15 Hours

 

Financial Aid Waivers

The following is a list of waiver programs and like all the programs I have cited please refer to www.collegeforalltexans.com if you think you might qualify:

  • Academic Common Market Waiver
  • Border County Waiver
  • Bordering States Waiver
  • Competitive Scholarship Waiver
  • Dual Medical/Philosophy Degree Waiver (Biomedical Research Scholarship Student Waiver)
  • Economic Development and Diversification Waiver
  • Good Neighbor Scholarship Program
  • Mexican Citizens with Financial Need-Border County Waiver
  • Mexican Citizens with Financial Need-Border Nations Waiver
  • Military: After Assignment in Texas
  • Military: Assigned to Duty in Texas
  • Military: Honorably Discharged, Separated or Retired Veterans who Move to Texas
  • Military: Member, Spouse or Child who Remains Continuously Enrolled in Higher Education in Texas
  • Military: NATO Forces
  • Military: Persons Eligible for Veterans Educational Benefits, Their Spouses and Children who Move to Texas
  • Military: Radiological Science Students of Midwestern State University
  • Military: Spouse and Dependents Who Previously Lived in Texas
  • Military: Survivors
  • Out-of-State Military: If Family Intent is to Make Texas Home
  • Research Assistants and Teaching Assistants Waiver
  • Tuition Waiver for Students from Neighboring States Continuing Upper Level Undergraduate Studies
  • Waiver for College Faculty and their Dependents
  • Waiver for Nonresidents Enrolled in Texas Public Universities Located within 100 Miles of the Texas Border
  • Waiver for Students from Mexico Enrolled in Graduate Degree Programs in Public Health
  • Waiver of Nonresident Tuition for Foreign Service Officers Stationed in Mexico Attending Public Institutions of Higher Education in Texas
  • Waiver Program for Registered Nurses Enrolled in Postgraduate Nursing Degree Programs

 

The college for all Texans website provides lots of valuable information on Texas colleges including a list of the total cost of attendance for all Texas colleges and universities. So please use it for reference and information however; if you have any questions about financial aid please feel free to call or email us with your questions.  If we don’t know the answer, we will find out!

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Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions about the MAC Scholarship

The MAC Program offers a variety of resources for you McLennan County college students, and some of you may have already received your letter from us recently containing a paper application for the MAC Scholarship. As the December 1st deadline for the application rapidly approaches, we wanted to give y’all a little more about the MAC Scholarship itself. MAC Scholarship recipients are awarded $5,000 for the last two years of your college career no matter where they are attending school, and the three Baylor transfer students who applied with the highest GPAs will receive full scholarships! You can fill out a paper application for the MAC Scholarship and mail it to us, or you can apply online here.

Students who are eligible to receive the MAC Scholarship meet the following criteria:

  • They applied to the MAC Program during their senior year of high school
  • They submitted their MAC Scholarship applications before December 1st of their sophomore year in college
  • They will have completed approximately 60 credit hours (two years) before June 1st of the upcoming year
  • They have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • If they planned to transfer, they sent us their letter of acceptance before June 1st of the upcoming year

We here at the MAC Program, we receive many questions about the MAC Scholarship, so we decided to go ahead and list the answers to the most frequent ones in a handy list.

1. If I don’t plan to transfer next year but will be at MCC one more year should I apply anyway?

Unless you’re in a special program, like Nursing, then you may not have completed the 60 credit hours required to apply for the MAC Scholarship. If you will have completed 60 credit hours, but intend to stay at MCC another year before transferring, you will want to wait until December 1st of next year to apply so you will receive your MAC Scholarship at the more expensive school.

 2Can I apply even if I didn’t go to MCC or TSTC?

Yes. If you applied to the MAC Program while you were a senior in high school, then you are eligible to apply for the MAC Scholarship no matter where you are attending college, even if you attend a school out of state.

 3. What if I am going to be in Nursing School or the University Center at MCC?  

The MAC Scholarship can be used for a continuing program such as Nursing at MCC.  If you are attending the University Center at MCC, you are considered a Junior/Senior working on your Bachelor’s Degree and are therefore eligible.

 4. What if I already have a scholarship for tuition?  

The MAC Scholarship, unlike the MAC Grant, isn’t a “last dollar toward tuition” grant.  It is a true scholarship, and you will be awarded $1,250 per semester for up to 4 semesters whether or not your tuition is paid for.  It can be used for living expenses if you don’t need it for tuition.

 5. What if I am already at Baylor, am I still eligible for the Full Scholarship at Baylor?

The full tuition scholarships are awarded to transfer students to attract successful students to Baylor. So while you may apply for a standard MAC Scholarship of $5,000, you do need to have completed your first 2 years at MCC, TSTC or some other community college in order to receive full tuition at Baylor.

 6. What if I won’t have 60 hours completed by June 1st?

If you plan to transfer during the next academic year (Fall or Spring), you should still apply for a MAC Scholarship if you are close to completing 60 credit hours or will be completing them next Summer or Fall before you transfer.  We don’t require students to take extra classes just so they can have 60 hours, but we do encourage you to get your Associates Degree if possible.  Attaining an Associate’s Degree or other goals along the way to a Bachelor’s has been shown to encourage students to work on their next big goal, and it provides some security in case something drastic happens and you are unable to complete your Bachelors Degree on schedule.

 7. What if I won’t be transferring until the spring semester?

You should still apply for the MAC Scholarship now.  When you are awarded the scholarship, just notify the MAC Program to hold it until the spring.  The scholarship will still only cover you for 4 semesters, but it would expire in December of the following school year instead of May. However if you will still need 2 years after your Spring semester, you have the option of waiting until next December 1st to apply for the next round of MAC Scholarships.

 8. What if I have funding for Fall And Spring but really need help paying for Summer classes or to Study Abroad?

Even though the MAC Grant doesn’t cover summer classes, we do offer our MAC Scholarship recipients the option of using one or more of their semesters for summer classes or to study abroad. Quite often, those are the classes they have the most trouble finding funding to pay for.

 9. What if I don’t quite have a 3.0 GPA?

You can still apply in December; you just need to improve your GPA to a 3.0 by the end of the spring semester.  We go by the grades you turn in by June 1st of the upcoming year.

 10. How does the Baylor scholarship work?

Three full Baylor scholarships are donated to the MAC Program each year to be awarded to transfer students. Of all the students who apply for the MAC Scholarship, we consider the students who intend to transfer to Baylor during the upcoming year. Of these transfer students, we award full scholarships to the three applicants who have the highest GPAs. Again, the final decision is based on the applicants’ GPAs after the end of the spring semester so students still have a chance to improve after they submit their applications. After being awarded, the three full tuition scholarships are managed by Baylor and include four semesters of tuition and most fees. They don’t cover summer classes, however, so make sure and contact the Financial Aid office if you’ll need funding during the summer that goes beyond your scholarship.

We here at the MAC Program hope this helps you understand a little more about the MAC Scholarship. If you have any more questions, you can give us a call, send us an email, or make an appointment to come in and talk with us. Remember to submit your applications soon!

Do I Need My Parent’s Financial Information for The FAFSA?

If you are considered a Dependent for the purpose of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will be required to include your parents’ financial information along with your own. If you are considered Independent, however, you will only be required to include your own information. But if you’re just starting college, sometimes it can be hard to know the classification under which you fall. Here are some helpful hints for figuring it out!

On the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will be asked the following questions to determine whether you will be considered a Dependent or Independent student:

  • Were you born before January 1, 1990?
  • As of today are you married?
  • At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, or graduate certificate, etc.)?
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
  • Do you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014?
  • Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2014?
  • At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
  • As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?
  • As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you in legal guardianship?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2012, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2012, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2012, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

If you can answer Yes to any of the above questions, you will be considered an independent student on the FAFSA and generally will not need to provide your parents’ information.

However, if you answer No to all of the above questions, you will be considered a dependent student, and generally your parents must provide parental information on your FAFSA.

These are the only situations that make you automatically independent. If you have a special circumstance that prevents you from providing parental information, you may still be able to submit your FAFSA. However, your FAFSA will be considered incomplete. You must contact the financial aid office at your college and provide them with documentation to verify your situation. Most colleges have a form that you must complete with documentation of your situation in order to consider you for Independent status.

You’ll notice that the questions don’t ask about whether or not you live with your parents, whether or not your parents are willing to pay any of your college expenses, or whether or not you filed your own tax return. The reason for this is that none of the answers to those questions are relevant to your FAFSA dependency status. Even if you do not live with your parents, your parents have told you they’re not going to help pay for college, and you filed your own tax return, you must include their financial information on the FAFSA if you answer No to the above questions.

The most common errors that are made in answering these yes or no questions are:

  1. Students with children: Even if you have a child, if you don’t have any income from work, child support or other sources, you can’t be providing at least half the support for the child. In this case you would still be considered dependent on parents.  If you are a Father, even if you pay child support, colleges usually won’t allow you to claim independent status unless the child actually lives with you.  If the mother is also going to college and you aren’t married, then only one of you can use that child to claim Independent Status.  However the child support you pay is reported on the FAFSA and deducted from your income in the EFC (expected family contribution) calculation.
  1. Guardianship:  Notice the question says “legal” guardianship.  That means legal paperwork signed by a Judge. Just because you live with a relative doesn’t make them your legal guardian unless that guardianship has been awarded to them by court documents.

Now, if you are considered a Dependent student on the FAFSA, you may have trouble figuring out which parent to list. Below are the criteria you will use to decide.

  • If your parents are living and married, you answer the questions about both of them even if you don’t live with them.
  • If your parent is single, you only report the income and information on that parent.
  • If parents are divorced, answer the questions about the parent you live with most or if you don’t live with either the parent you last lived with.
  • If your parents have shared custody, and you live with each 1/2 the time, you would choose the household you want to consider your responsible household. That should be the one that provided the most financial support during the last year or the last few years.
  • If the parent that you are showing on your FAFSA has remarried, you will also report the income for your step parent.
  • The only people you can report as parents on your FAFSA are biological, adoptive or step parents.  You would never report a Grandparent or other relative as you parent unless they have adopted you.
  • If you are under a legal guardianship, that guardian is not responsible for you after you turn 18 even if you continue to live with them.  So you would not report your guardian as a parent, you would be independent.

If you have any trouble with dependency questions on the FAFSA, check out this flowchart for quick reference.

Dependency Flowchart

And remember, if you ever have any questions or want any help with the FAFSA in general, contact us for an appointment.

Top 7 Things Students Seeking Scholarships Should Know

 

You’re on-board for college. You’re researching schools, thinking about majors, and writing your application essays. The question now is: How am I going to pay? You’ve heard about the MAC Program and you’re planning on giving us a call after January 1st when the new FAFSA is released so you can be eligible for as much federal financial aid as possible, but will it be enough?

Reality Check

The truth is, even if you qualify for the maximum amount of federal aid, you may not receive enough to pay for college. According to recent figures from CollegeData, the average cost of tuition and fees was $22,261 in 2012-2013 at an in-state public college and $43,289 at a private college. If you, like many people, are worried about paying the difference, you’re going to need scholarships. Here are some helpful tips to find them.

7. Don’t Pay to Find Scholarships.

There are many free ways to check for scholarships online for free. Check out FastWeb, Cappex, and Scholarships.com for a start. You can also talk to a counselor at your high school, who should have information about local scholarships and tips for filling them out.

These are reliable, easy-to-use resources, so don’t let anyone make you pay for services they’ll provide for free.

6. Look for All Kinds of Scholarships

Scholarships are not limited to students with the highest GPAs. Having great grades or test scores will help you, but there are a variety of scholarships out there for everything from financial need, to athletic ability, and even to hobbies.

Maybe you’re tall. Maybe you’re creative and looking to save money at prom. Maybe you’re just crazy about duck-calling. If you look around enough, there’s a scholarship out there for you.

5. Pay Attention to Deadlines

Each school has its own scholarship deadline, and many of them are earlier than you’d think. Make sure and check the website of every school you’re considering and put in your scholarship applications even before you know if you’re accepted.

Get your applications in before January. Some school’s deadlines are before January anyway, but even schools with later deadlines will get very busy after January hits. Early submissions are a good way to avoid the lines and make your application stand out.

4. Scholarships and Paperwork

When you’re filling out your scholarship application, it can be easy to overlook a step or a form you have to fill out. Make sure and read the instructions carefully and, more importantly, follow them. Even if a question doesn’t apply to you, make sure and mark it as “Not Applicable” or “N/A.” If an application is available online, or you can write the answers on your computer, always choose that over writing by hand. Even an accurate and punctual application is useless if it’s not legible.

Pro Tip: Make sure and use a professional email address on your applications, something as simple as firstname_lastname will do the trick. If you don’t have one, create one. It may not seem like a big deal, but whose application is more likely to be taken seriously: John_Smith@generic-but-respectable.com or goldengod89380x@dont-use-this.ever?

3. Make Your Application Stand Out

Put effort into making your application rise above the rest. You’ve already got a head start if you submit it early and have kept your hand-written answers to a minimum, now it’s all about the content.

Check and double-check your essay for spelling/grammar mistakes. Then do it again. Then ask a teacher to proofread it.

List all your accomplishments, including community service, awards, and evidence of your academic excellence.

If you need a letter of recommendation, choose a teacher that you have a good relationship with and give them plenty of time in advance to write it.

Then, proofread your essay again (can’t do this enough).

2. File Your FAFSA

Many scholarships, even those not based on financial need, require you to submit a FAFSA. You might be eligible for federal aid, so don’t miss out on that and scholarship money by forgetting to fill this out. If you want help, feel free to contact the MAC Program to set up an appointment.

We help file over 2,000 FAFSAs each year and we will never charge you, so give us a call.

1. Apply to the MAC Program

There is no reason not to. The only thing our application requires is your contact information and submission of a FAFSA. We offer a MAC Grant of up to $1,000 per semester to any McLennan County high school graduate with a family income of less than $50,000 who attends MCC or TSTC during the first four semesters and a MAC Scholarship of up to $1,250 to any McLennan County high school graduate with a family income of less than $50,000 who attends any college or university during the 3rd and 4th year.

Maybe you don’t think you’ll qualify because you’re not going to MCC or TSTC, or your family makes more than $50,000. But the MAC Scholarship during the last two years of school isn’t limited to MCC or TSTC, and maybe in a few years the economy will dip again. Things change, but we only accept applications to the MAC Program during your high school senior year, so be ready with a backup plan by submitting your application to our program now.

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.