Skip to content

Financial Aid

Financial aid is money a student can use to pay for college or a vocational school. There are many kinds of financial aid, including student loans, scholarships, and grants.

Loans are funds borrowed by the student and/or parent.

This money is paid back with interest.

Loans can be obtained from government agencies, such as federal student loans in the United States, or from private lenders.

A scholarship is an achievement award which is usually based on academic grades, abilities, skills, test scores, class rank, etc.

Scholarships do not need to be repaid. 

A grant is a gift that does not have to be repaid; it is based on the student's financial need.

Grants can be offered by government agencies, private organizations, universities, and other institutions.

Steps to Apply for Financial Aid

Step 1

The first step in the process to apply for federal financial aid is to complete the FAFSA form. Information about completing the form is available in Spanish by clicking Español in the top right corner of the web page.

Texas students without legal status may complete the TASFA. The TASFA web page is only available in English, but instructions and the application are also available in Spanish.

Step 2

In the application, a student will list the colleges or vocational schools they would like to attend. These institutions will use student FAFSA or TASFA data to determine the federal aid eligibility. Many states and colleges also use FAFSA or TASFA data to award their own aid. The institutions listed on the application will send a notice of the eligibility and amount of aid a student can receive toward tuition, fees, and books.

Step 3

It would be helpful for a student to meet with a financial aid officer from the college or vocational school and enroll after accepting the financial aid.The best source of information about financial aid opportunities is a high school counselor or a college and career center in your child’s school.

Steps in the Application Process

Step 1

Gather all necessary documents (for example high school transcripts, standardized test scores, income tax forms, community service logs, résumé, essays, letters of recommendation, and other important information).

Step 2

Take college entrance exams

  • ACT and/or SAT (both exams are in English only)

Step 3

Complete the financial aid application (FAFSA and/or TASFA)

Step 4

Complete college applications