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Apply for financial aid

Learn why, when, and how to apply for financial aid.

How will financial aid help you pay for college?

If you’ve looked into the cost of college or training programs, then you already know that most aren’t cheap. Applying for financial aid can open opportunities for education and training. Financial aid can include support based on need and merit. Many students qualify for financial aid, which can greatly reduce the overall cost. 

When can you apply for financial aid?

Applications open October 1 every year. This is the earliest you can apply to receive aid during the upcoming school year. Financial aid is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. So, try to file as soon as possible after October

Three financial aid deadlines to mark in your calendar

State Priority Deadline: January 15

In Texas, this is the state priority deadline of the current academic year.

College Deadline: January 15

Most four-year public colleges in Texas use the state priority deadline of January 15. However, you should double check with the schools you are interested in and apply by the college’s deadline.

Federal Deadline: June 30

The federal filing deadline and absolute last day to send your financial aid application is June 30 of the school year you’re requesting aid.

The sooner you apply, the better your chances of getting aid. Money is limited, and colleges can run out of funding.

How to figure out if you’re a dependent or independent student

If you meet one or more of the following criteria, then you are an independent student and will only use your own income and tax information:  

  • 24 years old or older 
  • Married 
  • Enrolled in a graduate level program (master’s or doctorate) 
  • Have children or other dependents who receive more than half of their support from you 
  • Active duty in the U.S. military or a veteran 
  • Both parents are deceased, or you were in foster care or a ward of the court 
  • An emancipated minor or in a legal guardianship 
  • An unaccompanied youth who is homeless or at risk of being homeless 

If you don't meet the above criteria, then you are a dependent student. 

You will need to use your own income and tax information, plus information about your parents.  

Which application should you complete?

Complete one of the following: 


  • Available to US citizens, permanent residents, and certain eligible noncitizens 
  • Application for federal, state, and institutional aid 


  • Available to Texas residents who are ineligible for the FAFSA 
  • Application for state and institutional aid 

Applying for scholarships

Scholarships are “gift aid” that don’t need to be repaid. You may be offered a scholarship for merit, financial need, or for simply meeting the eligibility criteria. 

Apply for scholarships in a variety of ways: 

  • Along with your application for admission to a college, if available 
  • Through the college’s website 
  • Through your employer 
  • Through local clubs and organizations 

You can also search for scholarship opportunities through free websites, like these: 

Apply for financial aid: FAFSA vs. TASFA 

Learn more
Types of financial aid

Learn more