Paying for college starts with planning for college. You should never assume that you can't afford college. By developing a thorough plan, a college education is within reach for every Texas student. The questions and answers below will help get you started.
How much does college actually cost?
The cost of a college education varies, depending on the college you select and whether you live at home, in an apartment or on campus. In Texas, the average total price—including tuition and fees, room and board, books, transportation, and other expenses—for one year of college ranges from $9,128 at a public technical college to $22,255 at a private college or university. Some colleges cost much less than the average, and others will be higher.
What are the major costs of college?
The cost of college can be broken down into two main categories:
1. Instruction and Facilities Costs
These costs at public colleges and universities are normally paid through a combination of funding from Texas taxpayers, tuition and fees from students, and other sources. Currently, students and parents pay only about 20 percent of the cost. The amount varies based on the type of school you attend—a university, community college or technical college.
Although their tuition and fees are higher than public colleges and universities, private colleges and universities in Texas offer lots of financial aid. The State of Texas also provides grants for students based on economic need to help equalize the tuition costs between public and private schools. So, the actual cost you pay at a private institution may be about the same as that at a public institution.
2. Room and Board, Books and Supplies, and Other Living Expenses
The typical student budget includes room and board, books and supplies, transportation costs and other living expenses. Before you choose your college, you might want to look at the sections on this website titled “College Costs At Texas Colleges And Universities” and “Tips For Reducing College Costs.”
How will you pay for college?
Many students receive financial aid to help pay for college. Families are expected to contribute to their students' education, even if the contribution is a small one. Most families use a combination of resources to help pay for college. These include:
- Money they have saved over time;
- A portion of their current income;
- The students' part-time and summer earnings;
- Financial aid, including educational loans; and
- Other resources.
Typically, families spread the cost of college over a long period of time—the same way you pay for other major expenditures, such as homes and cars.
Many families will need assistance. Students who demonstrate financial need (after completing either the FAFSA or TASFA) may be eligible for federal and/or state aid to help pay for college.
What is financial aid?
Student financial aid is money used to help pay for college expenses. It is available from many sources and in many forms, including grants, scholarships, work-study opportunities, loans and other programs. Financial aid can be used to pay for tuition and fees, books and supplies, and the living expenses associated with attending college. For more information on financial aid, check out the section on this website titled “Types of Financial Aid.”
How do you know if you qualify for financial aid?
Generally, students from a family that qualifies for the Free or Reduced Lunch Program will qualify for need-based assistance. If your family's income is above this level, you might still qualify for need-based financial aid. For a full discussion of how financial need is calculated, visit the “Explanation of Financial Need” section on this website.
Where can I find additional resources?
Each college’s financial aid office is the student's best source of information on grants, scholarships, work-study opportunities, loans and other programs. Many resources are also available online, but be wary of websites or companies that charge you for information or promise "guaranteed" scholarships. The same information is free from other sources.
For more information on paying for college, check out these links: