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Types of financial aid

Learn about and find financial aid opportunities.

Exploring financial aid options 

With so many different financial aid options out there, you might be wondering which is the best for you. We’ll walk through each type of financial aid and explain their differences. We’ll even point you to federal and Texas opportunities.  

Some types of aid are based on financial need, and some on academic performance. Not all colleges and universities participate in all programs, but the more you know about financial aid, the better prepared you’ll be.  

Grants and scholarships 

Grants and scholarships are types of aid that you don’t need to pay back. Both can come from the federal government, state government, schools, or organizations. 

Since grants and scholarships can come from anywhere, they can have different requirements. Some may require you to maintain a certain grade point average (GPA). Others may require you take certain courses. 

What’s the difference between scholarships and grants? 

The difference between scholarships and grants is how they’re awarded. Generally, grants are awarded based on financial need. Scholarships may be awarded based on need, merit, or involvement in certain clubs or organizations. 

Federal and state loans 

A loan is money you borrow that you must pay back, plus interest. Unlike grants and scholarships, loans are typically much easier to obtain. However, you should carefully review the fine print of the loan before accepting.  

If you have questions, talk to one of our academic advisors. If you receive a loan offer directly from your school, be sure to ask if they have someone you can speak with. 

What state loan programs are available in Texas? 

Since 1965, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) has provided low-interest loans for students who are Texas residents and eligible to pay in-state tuition. These loan programs include the Texas Armed Services Scholarship Program (TASSP) and Texas College Access Loan Program (CAL).  

There is a new loan opportunity available to learners who are unable to afford an institution’s cost of attendance (COA). The Future Occupations & Reskilling Workforce Advancement to Reach Demand (FORWARD) Program provides educational loans to Texas students who are enrolled in programs aligned with high value credentials and high demand occupations. This program is limited to students enrolled in specific programs within the fields of Nursing/ Patient Care, Teaching, Transportation/ Logistics, and Energy. Learners may apply for this low-interest loan to cover any remaining financial needs.

Tip: Certain careers, like teachers or public servants, can get extra help with their student loans. Check out the many loan repayment programs and loan forgiveness programs available.

Exemptions and waivers 

In Texas, there are various programs that exempt or waive tuition, fees, and other expenses related to attending college. Exemptions allow special groups of Texas residents or nonresidents to enroll and pay a reduced amount of tuition or fees. Waivers allow special groups of nonresidents to enroll and pay the Texas resident tuition or fee rate. Each program will have its own set of eligibility requirements. 


Other financial aid programs in Texas

Other programs exist in Texas that offer financial incentives for an education.  

  • Tax credits - Reduce the amount of taxes to be paid to help make college more affordable 
  • Rebates - Financial rewards for students who complete their degree within a certain number of hours 

Financial aid for military families 

Many of these types of financial aid have special programs for military and veterans. These programs are offered by both the federal government and state government. If you’re looking to attend a Texas college or university, you may qualify for an exemption, waiver, or refund. 

Apply for financial aid: FAFSA vs. TASFA 

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Tuition assistance for veterans and military families

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