Texas has many world-class universities such as The University of Texas at Austin, Rice University, and Texas A&M University. But, none of these big-name schools are free, and more than half of Texas college students graduate with student loan debt, according to The Institute for College Access & Success.
The good news is there are plenty of scholarships in Texas to help students spend less for school. By researching and applying for scholarships and grants to help pay the costs of college, you can limit the amount you borrow so you’ll have to spend less of your post-graduation income toward repaying student loans.
To help you score free cash for college, here are details about some scholarships you can apply for, as well as advice on where to find others.
Where to find scholarships in Texas
Unlike federal or private student loans, scholarships and grants provide money that you don’t have to pay back.
Grants and scholarships are similar, but typically, scholarships are awarded on a merit basis and grants are based on financial need. You can look for both to maximize your chances of finding free money for college.
Here are some good places to seek scholarships:
- The school you’ll be attending: For example, the University of Texas at Austin maintains a database of scholarships it administers for undergraduate and graduate students. There also are private scholarships in the database. Incoming freshmen become eligible for scholarship funding after submitting the ApplyTexas application, which is the same form used to gain school admission. Returning students and transfer students need to submit the Continuing and Transfer Scholarship Application.
- Organizations and groups: These groups can include unions and churches, which might offer scholarships to members and their families. One example is the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC), which offers scholarships for its church members who attend SBTC-affiliated colleges, such as Jacksonville College and Criswell College. To find out how to submit an application, SBTC recommends calling its communications department at 817-552-2500. It’s one of many organizations providing scholarships in Texas, so check for other opportunities with groups that you or your family members belong to.
- Companies in Texas: Fort-Worth based Hot Sauce Depot offers the Hot Sauce Depot Texas Scholars Program, which provides a $500 scholarship every year to a student attending accredited colleges, universities, or technical schools in Texas. You can find information and apply on the company’s website. Employers that you or your family work for might offer similar scholarship programs.
- Online resources: There are many online resources that list scholarships. Some great places to find scholarships in Texas include the Houston mayor’s Office of Education, Scholarships.com, Unigo, College Scholarships, and the Texas comptroller’s office, which maintains a list of scholarships available to students in the state.
- State and federal government programs: The state of Texas provides up to $5,000 in college funding for eligible students through its Education and Training Vouchers for Youths Aging Out of Foster Care in Texas program. Undergrads also might be eligible for federal Pell Grants if they can demonstrate financial need.
Some Texas scholarships you might want to apply for
There are dozens of Texas grants and scholarships you can apply for, so researching the programs is a good option. To help you get started, we’ve identified a few opportunities you might want to seek to reduce college costs.
Top 10 Percent Scholarship Program
The Top 10 Percent Scholarship Program was created by the Texas Legislature to encourage the state’s top students to attend a public college in the state. The schools determine how to distribute the money. Students can become eligible by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Funding is limited, so submit your FAFSA as early as possible to qualify.
You can receive up to $2,000 through this scholarship if you meet certain requirements, which include:
- Completing 30 semester credit hours in the previous year
- Maintaining a GPA of 3.25 or higher
- Completing at least 75% of credit hours attempted
The Distinguished Young Bobcat Award
The Distinguished Young Bobcat Award is a $1,000 scholarship for students attending Texas State University. To be eligible, you must:
- Be a senior at a high school in Texas with a minimum GPA of 3.5
- Submit an essay explaing your academic interests, why you chose Texas State University, and how you’ve demonstrated leadership potential
- Attend Texas State University in the fall after graduation
- Submit a current resume
- Submit a letter of recommendation from a nonfamily member
Tips for applying for scholarships in Texas
If you’re interested in applying for scholarships and grants, start your search early to ensure that you don’t miss deadlines. It can take time to prepare and submit applications.
Many scholarships administered through local schools don’t require a separate application; submitting a FAFSA and an ApplyTexas application is enough.
Scholarships through other organizations, such as private companies or community groups, have their own application processes.
Also, don’t overlook small scholarships. While it would be nice to land a big award that covers thousands of dollars in tuition costs, there’s often fierce competition when a lot of money is offered. You might have a better chance of winning smaller scholarships of $250 or $500, which can add up and help with college costs.
The key is to be persistent and apply for as many scholarships in Texas as possible. Graduating with low student loan debt is worth the effort.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2018!
|1 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or Nationwide Bank, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
2 Important Disclosures for Discover.
3 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB) or Turnstile Capital Management, LLC (TCM), which are not affiliated entities. Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. All loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Other terms and conditions apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of TCM and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for PNC.
PNC Bank is one of the nation’s largest education loan providers. For over 40 years, PNC has been committed to helping students and their families make possible the adventure of college.
6 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2018 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
8 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
9 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|3.82% – 12.82%3||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit Ascent|
|3.69% – 10.94%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CollegeAve|
|4.34% – 12.99%2||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit Discover|
|4.12% – 10.98%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit SallieMae|
|5.03% – 11.23%5||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit PNC|
|3.88% – 12.88%6||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit SunTrust|
|4.68% – 9.77%7||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit LendKey|
|3.72% – 9.68%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CommonBond|
|4.04% – 12.01%9||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit Citizens|