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.
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