How to Pay for The University of Texas at Austin: Aid and Student Loan Options

 July 15, 2020
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More than 40,000 undergraduates and 11,000 graduate students studied at The University of Texas at Austin in the fall of 2018. If you’re planning to join their ranks, you’ll first need to consider the University of Texas at Austin cost and how to pay for it.

While the cost of attendance varies by major and hours enrolled, the per-semester cost for 12-plus hours of courses fell between $5,291 and $6,630 for Texas residents and between $18,835 and $22,668 for non-residents.

Remember that these figures are just the sticker price — chances are, your University of Texas at Austin cost of attendance could be lowered through grants, scholarships or work-University of Texas at Austin student loan study opportunities.

Here are all your options for paying for UT Austin, so you can enjoy your education without stressing about costs.

Here’s a breakdown of University of Texas at Austin costs, followed by how to access funds to pay them — specifically:

Understanding University of Texas at Austin costs

Rather than charging a fixed rate for all students, the University of Texas at Austin has different tuition costs depending on your school and number of hours enrolled. Texas residents have a lower cost of attendance, whereas non-resident students typically pay a good deal more.

To give an example, the chart below shows the estimated University of Texas cost of attendance per semester for full-time students who are enrolled for 12 or more credit hours in the College of Liberal Arts.

The University of Texas at Austin Cost of Attendance Per Semester for the College of Liberal Arts
Texas resident Non-resident
Tuition $5,291 $18,835
Housing $6,143 $6,143
Transportation $760 $760
Books & supplies $357 $357
Personal / miscellaneous $1,480 $1,480
Total cost per semester $14,031 $27,575
All info current as of June 6, 2020. Sources: The University of Texas at Austin

As you can see, the University of Texas at Austin cost of attendance is much higher for students who aren’t residents of Texas.

Besides these prices, UT Austin also offers a “Longhorn fixed tuition rate” option to first-time undergraduate students. This fixed rate is slightly higher than the non-fixed option: For a full-time Texas resident student in the College of Liberal Arts, for example, the Longhorn fixed rate is $5,960; for a non- Texas resident student, it is $20,677.

The appeal of this fixed rate, however, is that it will stay the same over all four years. If you’re concerned about rising tuition costs, selecting the fixed tuition rate has the potential — though not the guaranty — to save you money over the long run.

Unlock financing options with the FAFSA

You have a variety of options when it comes to paying for The University of Texas at Austin. Financial aid can come in the form of grants, scholarships, work-study or student loans.

But before you can access this aid, you’ll need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA becomes available on Oct. 1, and you’ll need to fill it out every year to remain eligible for financial aid.

If you’re a resident of Texas, but not a U.S. citizen, you should also fill out the Texas Application for State Financial Aid, or TASFA. This form, available in English and Spanish, will connect you with state-level financial aid.

Grants for University of Texas at Austin students

As a UT Austin student, you could qualify for grants — money for college generally awarded to students with financial need.

The Department of Education offers a few different grants to college students, while the state of Texas offers grants to local students through its College for All Texans initiative.

Make sure to submit the FAFSA to put yourself in the running for these federal and state grants. Some aid is doled out on a first-come, first-served basis, so complete the FAFSA as soon as you can. Here are some you might be offered:

  • Pell Grant: Up to $6,345 in the 2020-21 year for undergraduates with financial need.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant: Up to $4,000 per year for students with financial need.
  • TEACH Grant: Up to $4,000 per year for undergraduates who plan to teach high-need subjects at schools that serve low-income students.
  • Texas Public Educational Grant: Amounts vary for this grant, available to both residents, nonresidents and foreign students with financial need. Funding isn’t always available, though, so contact your financial aid office for more information.
  • TEXAS (Toward EXcellence, Access and Success) Grant: This variable-amount grant goes to Texas students with financial need who meet certain academic criteria. However, since funding is limited, you aren’t guaranteed to receive this grant even if you’re eligible.

Besides federal and state grants, you might also apply to win grants from private organizations. You can search for private grants online or ask your school counselor for suggestions.

Note, however, that private organizations might have their own application forms along with the FAFSA. Make sure to check for any additional requirements or deadlines, so you don’t miss out on money for college.

Scholarships for University of Texas at Austin students

Like grants, scholarships are a type of gift aid that typically doesn’t need to be repaid. Unlike grants, however, they are often awarded for reasons other than financial need, such as academic performance or extracurricular activities.

UT Austin supports its student population with a variety of scholarships. Some of these are available to students across the university, while others are awarded within certain colleges or departments. Here are a few options for UT Austin students:

  • Presidential Scholars Program: This is a prestigious program for students with strong academic achievement and high financial need. It involves an annual scholarship award, as well as participation in an enrichment program with opportunities to network.
  • University Co-op/George H. Mitchell Award: Awards of $5,000 or $7,000 are available to five undergraduate students in their junior or senior year for their academic or creative achievement.
  • University Leaders Network Scholarship: This program offers $5,000 per year for four years to 500 UT Austin freshmen with financial need.
  • Roy Crane Award in the Arts: This scholarship gives $1,000 to $4,500 to a UT Austin student for their creative effort in the arts.
  • Forty Acres Scholars Program: This is one of those rare “full-ride scholarships” that will cover your entire cost of tuition. This competitive scholarship goes to students with strong academic credentials and communication skills, as well as demonstrated leadership and involvement in extracurricular activities and community service.

Along with the FAFSA, you might be required to submit additional application forms for UT Austin scholarships.

Apart from institutional scholarships, you could also apply to scholarships from private organizations. There are thousands of opportunities across the country, and you can find them with online scholarship search tools, such as Scholly or College Board Scholarship Search. For instance, students planning to major in a STEM field could apply for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation award or the Barry Goldwater Scholarship.

If you’re in high school, you could also speak with your school counselor about local opportunities. By applying far and wide to scholarships, you could get major help paying for college — and you won’t have to take on as much student debt as a result.

Federal and Texas work-study programs

If you’ve got financial need, UT Austin’s work-study program can help you find a part-time job, either on or off campus. Although it doesn’t guarantee employment, it usually gives you a leg up on the competition, since certain jobs are only available to students with work-study.

Both the federal government and the state of Texas provide work-study funding. The federal program is open to any qualifying student, while the Texas work-study program is only available to Texas residents. You can search for work-study jobs on the university’s job board, HireUTexas.

Besides work-study jobs, you might also find regular student employment. You can search for opportunities on the Hire a Longhorn Job Bank. The University of Texas at Austin employs over 10,000 students in a variety of jobs, including work in the library, athletics department, housing and dining, parking and transportation services and more.

Federal student loans

After exhausting your options for grants and scholarships, you might need additional funding for college. If that’s the case, it could make sense to borrow federal student loans from the Department of Education.

A popular federal student aid option for undergraduate students is the direct loan. You don’t need to pass a credit check to qualify — in fact, anyone attending an eligible school (such as UT Austin) can take out a direct loan.

There are two types: subsidized, which won’t require you to pay interest until your grace period ends and repayment begins, and unsubsidized, which accrue interest from the date of disbursement.

Your financial aid package from UT Austin will detail which loans you qualify for and how much you can borrow. Federal student loans tend to be better options than private ones, since they come with the following benefits:

  • Income-driven repayment plans: Plans such as Income-Based Repayment, Income-Contingent Repayment, Pay As You Earn and Revised Pay As You Earn adjust your monthly payments along with your income and family size. If you still have a balance at the end of your 20- or 25-year term, it will be forgiven.
  • Forbearance and deferment: These programs allow you to postpone payments on your loans if you return to school or run into financial hardship. Note, however, that interest might continue to accrue during these periods.
  • Eligibility for federal loan forgiveness programs: Programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Loan Forgiveness will wipe away part or all of your federal student loans in exchange for qualifying service.
  • Fixed interest rates: While some private student loans come with variable rates that could change over time, federal student loans have fixed rates that will remain the same over the life of your loan.

The Department of Education also offers PLUS loans to graduate students or parents of undergraduates paying for their child’s education. Grad students or parents can borrow up to the school’s full cost of attendance in PLUS loans, but they must pass a credit check to qualify.

This table compares the interest rates and origination fees of the various federal student loans.

Federal student loan Who can use it? Interest rate (2020-21) One-time loan fee for loans disbursed between Oct. 1, 2019 and Oct. 1, 2020* Interest paid for you during deferment
Subsidized Undergraduate students with a demonstrated financial need 2.75% 1.059% Yes
Unsubsidized Undergraduate students 2.75% 1.059% No
Unsubsidized (for graduate students) Students working toward a graduate or professional degree 4.30% 1.059% No
PLUS Graduate students and parents of undergraduate students 5.3% 4.236% No
*2020-21 loan fees have not yet been announced.

All information current as of June 24, 2020. Source: Federal Student Aid

Although federal student loans can be a useful tool for paying for college, make sure you understand what you’re getting into before you borrow. Use a student loan repayment calculator to estimate your future monthly payments and the amount of interest that will accrue. By doing your due diligence now, you can avoid taking on too much debt.

University of Texas at Austin student loans

Federal student aid is likely your best option for borrowing student loans, but UT Austin also offers two types of short-term loans to students in need:

  • Emergency cash loans: Up to $500, and the loan is due back within 30 days.
  • Tuition loans: Up to the balance of your tuition bill for Texas residents, and up to 50% of your tuition bill for non-residents. This loan must be paid back within 30 to 90 days.

However, while a UT Austin loan can help you out of a tight financial spot, it isn’t a long-term solution for financing your education. If you’re a Texas resident, you might also look to the state’s College Access Loan (CAL) Program.

The CAL Program provides loans at a 4.20% interest rate to Texas residents who are unable to meet their school’s cost of attendance. You must pass a credit check to qualify or apply with a cosigner who can.

In the past, Texas also offered a zero-interest loan to state residents. If they graduated on time and fulfilled other requirements, this loan would be forgiven. Unfortunately, the Texas B-On-Time (BOT) Loan Program isn’t funding new loans, but renewal loans for existing BOT loan borrowers are still on offer.

Private student loans

Since federal student loans come with borrowing limits, you could still end up with a gap in funding after you’ve borrowed. In that case, you might explore your options for private student loans.

Private student loans can come from a bank, credit union or online lender, such as CommonBond or College Ave.

Each lender sets its own requirements, but most look for strong credit and a stable income. The majority of undergraduates can’t qualify on their own, so they may apply with a creditworthy cosigner, typically a parent.

Private student loans differ from federal ones in a few ways. For example, they might have a variable interest rate, though a fixed rate option is often available as well. You can also choose repayment terms, often between five and 20 years when you borrow, though you usually can’t change your terms after that.

Private lenders don’t generally offer income-driven repayment plans, deferment or other options that come with federal loans. In most cases, the only way to restructure your debt after you’ve borrowed is through student loan refinancing.

Since each lender is different when it comes to interest rates, term lengths and other loan features, it’s a good idea to shop around and compare offers. By connecting with a few lenders, you can find a student loan with the best terms for you.

Apart from looking for the lowest rate, don’t forget about other perks as well. For instance, you might find a lender that offers forbearance if you run into financial hardship after graduation.

You could also look for one that offers cosigner release after a certain period of on-time repayments. Ascent even offers the perk of a 1% cashback reward upon graduation if you meet certain criteria.

So while comparing interest rates is important, also keep an eye out for other benefits that could give one lender an edge over another.

Paying for The University of Texas at Austin

When planning on how to pay for a University of Texas at Austin education, remember to max out your options for gift aid before turning to student loans.

After grants and scholarships, your next stop might be federal or state student loans, but if you still have a financial gap, private student loans can be useful. Just make sure you understand the terms of your debt before borrowing.

And even if you’re just starting college, it’s never too early to come up with a plan for repayment. By laying out the details now, you’ll be better prepared to hit the ground running after you graduate. You might even find ways to pay off your student debt ahead of schedule.

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