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Financial Aid

Watch the VIDEO below for an OVERVIEW of financial aid for college:



How much does it cost to go to college??

As students look toward post-secondary options, the cost of going to college is always a major concern.  Though it may seem counter-intuitive, factoring in cost is recommended to be one of the last considerations a student should make when determining which university to attend.  Typically speaking, the details of the financial component of attending a particular university is not available until the latter part of the the Spring of a student's senior year.
To determine how much it will cost to attend college, a student should investigate the published cost of attendance (COA) for each.  But, what is cost of attendance?
Cost of Attendance Graphic
And the great thing is that most universities publish their approximate Cost of Attendance on each of their websites.
College for All Texans maintains a section of its website that displays typical costs of attendance for numerous Texas public universities.
CollegeTuitionCompare's website also maintains a section of its website that compares costs of attendance for numerous Texas public universities


How much does it ACTUALLY cost to go to college??

Based on a student's FAFSA submission, the federal government determines a student's Estimated Family Contribution (EFC).  An EFC is the amount of money that the federal government determines a student (and his/her family) can put toward a student's college education annually. 
And then based on a student's individual EFC, each university determines the financial need for each student by using a simple formula:
Cost of Attendance Formula
From there, each university informs each student what it can offer to meet that financial need by creating an individualized Financial Aid Package.  Universities will try to meet 100% of the financial need for each student, but it is not always possible.
But, the Financial Aid package awarded could make the difference between actually affording a university with a high COA and going to a school that appears to "cost less." 
University Cost Comparison


What makes up a Financial Aid Package?

There are four main types of financial aid for college students: grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study funds.


Direct Subsidized & Unsubsidized Federal Loans (aka Stafford Loans)

Federal Perkins Loan

PLUS (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students)

College Access Loan



Grants are a type of gift aid, meaning financial aid that does not have to be repaid. In contrast to scholarships, which are often based on some combination of merit and need, grants are typically based on need.
Here are two types of federal grants available to students who fill out the FAFSA and meet the criteria (with further information links provided below)
Examples of Federal Grants. Federal Pell Grants: usually awarded only to undergraduate students, amount of aid a student can receive depends on financial need, cost of attendance, and eligibility usually determined by the college or university

Federal Pell Grant

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

Federal TEACH Grant

TEXAS Grant (information also available at on the Postsecondary Documents section of CSA’s website)

Texas Educational Opportunity Grant (TEOG)

Texas Public Education Grant (TPEG)

Texas Equalization Grant

Automatic College Admission Policy (Top 10% Rule) (information also available at on the Postsecondary Documents section of CSA’s website)



Like grants, scholarships are a type of gift aid and do not require repayment. They are typically offered by individual institutions and private organizations. They can be awarded based on factors such as academic performance, athletic ability, religious affiliation, and race or ethnicity. Students are often asked to write an essay as part of the scholarship application process.

Please visit the CSA Scholarship section of the website for more information on how to find and apply for scholarships.



While enrolled, students can earn money to help them pay for school through this student work program. Work-study provides part-time employment, is available to both full-time and part-time students, and offers jobs on and off campus.



What are some overall financial aid resources?

The USDE Federal Student Aid Website is a great overview of all federal financial aid programs.

Generation TX maintains a great website specifically targeted to students for understanding financial aid in Texas.

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators has some great advice for parents and students!

College Covered dedicates its website to helping students & parents understand financial aid and learn from parents & students who have been through it before.