If you’re hoping to attend one of the top universities in Texas, then chances are you’ll need some financial help. To attend the Lone Star State’s best schools, tuition ranges anywhere from a few thousand dollars a semester to upwards of $50,000! When you add in costs for books, housing, food and more, an undergraduate education can start to add up quickly. Fortunately, regardless of your financial situation and your parent’s income, financial aid may be able to help pay for part or even all of your education.
Do you have your heart set on one of the top universities in Texas? Do you need a little financial assistance to make it happen? Just follow this financial aid checklist, and you’ll maximize your chances for keeping tuition costs down:
- 1. Determine how much you need. Make an exhaustive list of each and every school you hope to attend, along with their tuition costs, housing expenses and other expected fees. Many schools will offer a cost calculator on their website, or they may have “estimated” costs for room and board, books, lab fees and more; these can also be helpful when determining the total amount of financial aid you’ll need to attend.
- 2. Talk to your parents. Find out how much your parents are able to help with your education costs. Tally up any education funds or savings accounts they have in your name, and figure out your estimated family contribution (EFC) by inputting your findings into this handy calculator. This will help you determine how much your parents can contribute annually.
- 3. File your FAFSA. Filing for FAFSA is necessary if you want to take advantage of any federal loans or grant programs. You typically want to file this as soon as possible, but the final deadline is June 1 of each year. In order to file, you’ll need a number of documents including the following:
- Your social security card
- Your driver’s license
- Your parents’ tax returns and W-2s
- Your parents’ bank statements and mortgage information
- Details on any stocks, bonds or savings accounts
- Business records
- Details of any extenuating financial circumstances
Once you’ve filed your FAFSA, you should receive a Student Aid Report in about a month. This document will outline how much your family is expected to contribute as well as any grants or loans you are currently eligible for. Be sure to accept these quickly – there is typically a very short deadline for federal aid applications.
- 4. Find private financial aid programs. The FAFSA will only help you apply for federal grants, loans and scholarships, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only option out there. There are actually thousands of private scholarship and grant programs around, and you are likely eligible for many of them. Start by researching your parents’ employers; a number of corporations offer scholarship programs for employees and their dependents. You can also look into other corporations in your area, see if your town has a community foundation, or start searching online for other possible grants and scholarships you may be eligible for. Fastweb.com and Scholarships.com are both great starting points.
- 5. Look at school-specific financial aid. Most schools have a number of scholarships and grants set aside for incoming students. Some of these are merit-based and require a high GPA (among other things) while others are based on financial need. Regardless, if you’ve applied and been accepted to one of the top universities in Texas, always be sure to apply for their scholarship and grant programs too. Who knows, it could cover your entire education!
Financial aid can put even the most expensive colleges well within reach – no matter what your financial situation is like. So be sure to apply early and do your research!
Are you hoping to attend one of the top universities in Texas? Then be sure to include Texas Lutheran University in your search. We offer affordable tuition, top-notch academic programs and world-class facilities. Call us today to schedule a campus tour and see for yourself.