YOUR FUTURE Preparing for education beyond high school

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1 College Outreach YOUR FUTURE Preparing for education beyond high school

2 Anyone considering college has a lot to think about. Let this guide be a resource as you gather the facts on getting the degree or certificate you want.

3 WHY COLLEGE? DETAILS SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF A COLLEGE EDUCATION 02 CHOOSING THE RIGHT COLLEGE PAYING YOUR WAY PROVIDES TIPS ABOUT SELECTING THE BEST SCHOOL FOR YOU DESCRIBES HOW FINANCIAL AID CAN HELP PAY FOR COLLEGE AND HOW TO APPLY FOR AID 03 APPLYING FOR COLLEGE ADMISSIONS IN TEXAS WHAT TO ASK COLLEGES ADMISSIONS POP QUIZ WHAT IS FINANCIAL AID? YOUR KEY TO FINANCIAL AID THE FAFSA HOW MUCH AID CAN YOU GET? OBTAINING FINANCIAL AID STEP BY STEP FINDING SCHOLARSHIPS BORROWING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW WHAT ARE FEDERAL DIRECT LOANS? UNDOCUMENTED STUDENT? COLLEGE IS POSSIBLE RESOURCES FOR YOUR COLLEGE JOURNEY SUGGESTS TOOLS TO HELP YOU EARN YOUR DEGREE 13 WHAT DO WE MEAN BY COLLEGE? In this guide, college refers to all types of institutions, from 4-year universities and 2-year community colleges to technical and vocational schools. Keep this in mind there is a college that can provide you the right education to start your career.

4 WHY COLLEGE? A college education can open doors to a multitude of benefits, including: JOB OPPORTUNITIES A college education gives you more flexibility to change jobs and job locations. Also, you will have more upward mobility in your career. If laid off, college grads find re-employment faster. SECURITY IN A CHANGING ECONOMY College gives you the foundation to adapt to changing business conditions throughout your life, so you won t get left behind. STABILITY FOR A FAMILY A college education can prepare you to provide for, and take care of, the people in your life. MORE MONEY Over a lifetime, a college graduate can earn an average of $1 million more than a high school graduate. 02\ YOUR FUTURE

5 CHOOSING THE RIGHT COLLEGE A college degree takes time and money. To get the most from your investment, you should shop around for a good school. Consider the college s admissions policy. Some colleges primarily accept students with top class rankings and high test scores on the SAT or ACT. Others have open admissions policies, meaning most students are welcome. Consider cost. Given rising tuition, your choice in college can be about cost as much as education. Also, if you borrow, you ll want to make sure your future earnings can cover your expenses as well as loan repayment. Consider other factors that could affect your decision, say, the college s size and location, the ratio of faculty to students, and the school s average financial aid award to students. The key to finding a good match is to know what s important to you. For example, if you want to attend a topranked public college within your state, you can narrow your search dramatically. Being thorough in your search means you re more likely to succeed at the college you select. APPLYING FOR COLLEGE ADMISSION IN TEXAS Most Texas colleges require a common admission application available at ApplyTexas.org. Applications vary based on type of college. One application may be good for multiple schools. APPLYTEXAS.ORG YOUR FUTURE/03

6 WHAT TO ASK COLLEGES Say you ve set your sights on a few colleges and want to know more before making a decision. Here are some questions you could ask each institution to gather facts and weigh your options. GPA/ TEST SCORES DECISION DATES INTERVIEW STUDENT BODY COLLEGE COST APPLICATION FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE Is there a minimum grade point average (GPA) or SAT/ACT score for admission? When are decisions about admission made? What role does an interview play in the admission decision? What is the student population like? Traditional college age or older? Living on or off campus? From the local or regional area? What is the average class size for freshman courses? What are the clubs and organizations on campus? What is the cost of attendance (see page 07 for a definition)? Do you require other applications in addition to the admission application? Do you offer scholarships or other forms of financial aid? When will you inform me about financial aid and scholarship offers? 04\ YOUR FUTURE

7 ADMISSIONS POP QUIZ 1. Only the top 10 percent of high school graduates get accepted to college. T or F 2. You have to decide on a major before you can enroll. T or F 3. Most schools base admission only on SAT or ACT scores. T or F 4. It s a good idea to apply to more than one or two colleges. T or F 5. If you don t apply before January of your senior year in high school, you probably won t be accepted anywhere. T or F YOUR FUTURE /05 Answers: 1 F; 2 F; 3 F; 4 T; 5 F

8 PAYING YOUR WAY You can pay for college out of pocket, but many students need help that is, some form of financial aid. Financial aid is money to help you get a higher education. This money generally comes from the federal government, the state, a college, or a private organization. To obtain aid, you ll have to complete and submit the appropriate application (see table below). The process is simple enough, but every year, some students forego college because they think they can t afford it and won t qualify for financial aid. Don t be that student. The truth is you probably do qualify for some type of aid. Also, applying costs nothing, and the benefits of college are too many to pass up. WHAT IS FINANCIAL AID? There are four types of financial aid: scholarships, grants, work-study, and student loans. Aid type What it is Source Applying SCHOLARSHIPS Gift of money that doesn t have to be repaid Colleges, organizations, states Apply to: DONOR SCHOOL or ORGANIZATION GRANTS Money for college based on financial need; doesn t have to be repaid Federal government, states, colleges Complete the FAFSA * generally, unless student withdraws from school Schools may require a separate application *Free Application for Federal Student Aid WORK-STUDY Jobs on or off campus offered to students based on need and availability Federal government, states Complete the FAFSA LOANS Borrowed money that must be repaid Federal government, states Complete the FAFSA ** **You will also have to complete a state application for a state loan. 06\ YOUR FUTURE

9 YOUR KEY TO FINANCIAL AID THE FAFSA To get the federal financial aid you need including grants, work-study, and loans you ll have to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In order to determine your eligibility for aid, the FAFSA gathers financial information on you and your parents, including annual income, taxes paid, untaxed income, and assets as well as family size and number of family members in college. You may be able to transfer some of this tax and income information electronically to the FAFSA if you and/or your parents file your taxes early and online. Instructions provided with the FAFSA can guide you through transferring IRS data. You don t have to pay to submit the FAFSA. Applying is free. If you need help completing or submitting the application, there s lots of free help available, including resources listed at the end of this booklet. FAFSA.GOV HOW MUCH AID CAN YOU GET? What you get for financial aid depends on your financial need. To determine that need, the federal government uses a simple equation that looks like this: COST OF ATTENDANCE (COA) EXPECTED FAMILY CONTRIBUTION (EFC) = FINANCIAL NEED Here s how the equation works. The Department of Education gathers data from your FAFSA to compute what you and your parents are expected to contribute to your educational costs for one academic year this is called your expected family contribution, or EFC. Your college subtracts the EFC from its cost of attendance, or COA, which includes estimated expenses for tuition, fees, books, housing, transportation, and other things. This determines your financial need. Your college will try to meet this amount with financial aid you may qualify for, including grants, work-study, and loans. YOUR FUTURE/07

10 OBTAINING FINANCIAL AID STEP BY STEP 1 SUBMIT THE FAFSA Complete and submit the FAFSA as soon after January 1 of your high school senior year as possible, and each year thereafter, while you are in college. Contact your colleges and find out if they require an additional financial aid application for state and institutional aid. Also, find out if they have a priority deadline to submit the FAFSA. FAFSA.GOV Online application: Visit If you and a parent each have a Social Security Number, you will need them to obtain personal identification numbers, or PINs. You ll use these PINs to sign your FAFSA electronically. If you don t have a Social Security Number, you ll need to complete the FAFSA and then print, sign, and mail the FAFSA signature page. Paper application: Call (800) 4-FED-AID, or download and print a PDF version of the FAFSA, which is available at STUDENTAID.GOV ABOUT FINANCIAL NEED Generally, the higher your financial need, the more likely you will receive financial aid. A student with more need is likely to receive more grants, while a student with low need might receive more loans. REMEMBER, THOUGH, THERE ARE MANY OTHER SOURCES OF AID, INCLUDING SCHOLARSHIPS. 08\ YOUR FUTURE

11 2 REVIEW THE AWARD LETTERS Review the award letters sent to you by the colleges you listed on the FAFSA. These letters will list the amount and type of financial aid you qualify for. Not all colleges will send you an award letter immediately. Some colleges will wait until you have applied or been admitted. 3 COMPARE AWARDS FROM EACH COLLEGE Consider: the school s cost of attendance, or COA; total scholarships and grants awarded; the school s net price (which is the school s COA minus any scholarships and grants); and any loans to help pay for the school s net price. 4 MAKE A DECISION Choose a college and accept its financial aid package.you can decline or reduce the individual aid amounts. 5 FOLLOW UP Remember to complete any follow-up paperwork with the college. FINDING SCHOLARSHIPS To obtain scholarships, you ll have to apply to donors directly and meet any eligibility criteria, often based on academic merit, but sometimes based on interests and other qualifications. Visit AIE.org/scholarships to tap into a powerful scholarship search engine. AIE.ORG/SCHOLARSHIPS YOUR FUTURE/09

12 BORROWING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW If you borrow to pay for your education, federal student loans can offer a great deal. Why? Here are a few reasons: GENERALLY LOWER INTEREST RATES THAN MOST PRIVATE LOANS Interest rates are fixed, but vary from year to year and depend on the loan type and disbursement time. FLEXIBLE REPAYMENT PLANS Some plans are based on debt and income. Plans vary in length from 10 up to 30 years, depending on the amount you borrow and your ability to pay. GENEROUS BENEFITS Benefits include temporary repayment postponement in certain conditions. GRACE PERIOD You don t have to make loan payments during your grace period, which lasts six months and starts after you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment. NO COLLATERAL REQUIREMENT You don t have to provide anything up front in order to qualify. For students, there is no credit check, though there may be one for parents or graduate students applying for a PLUS loan. LOAN FORGIVENESS If you work in certain public service jobs, you may get some of your loans forgiven under certain conditions. 10\ YOUR FUTURE

13 WHAT ARE FEDERAL DIRECT LOANS? Undergraduates, graduates, professional students, and parents can qualify for various kinds of federal Direct loans. Your college determines which types of loans you can receive and how much. Here s a summary of the important features of each type of Direct loan. Direct loan types Who qualifies? Repayment starts Interest rate* Interest payment SUBSIDIZED Undergraduate student At the end of the six-month 3.86% Interest does not accrue while you grace period are enrolled at least after the student half time, during leaves school the grace period, and during any deferment periods. You pay the interest during repayment. UNSUBSIDIZED Undergraduate or graduate student At the end of the six-month 3.86% for undergraduate Once the loan is disbursed, interest grace period students starts accruing. You after the student leaves school or drops below half- 5.41% for graduate students don t have to make interest payments while in school, but time enrollment if you don t, the accrued interest gets added to your loan amount when repayment starts. PLUS ** (FOR PARENT) Parent Immediately after last disbursement 6.41% Parent pays the interest. PLUS ** (FOR STUDENT) Graduate or professional student Immediately after last disbursement 6.41% Student pays the interest. *Interest rates for July 1, 2013, through July 1, Rates change annually. Ask your college about current rates. ** The Department of Education will perform a credit check before approving a PLUS loan. YOUR FUTURE/11

14 UNDOCUMENTED STUDENT? COLLEGE IS POSSIBLE If you are an undocumented student who has lived in Texas for three years prior to receiving your high school diploma or GED, and if you plan to apply for permanent residency as soon as possible, you may qualify to be admitted to college as a state resident. As a state resident, you are eligible to apply for state financial aid at any institution in Texas, public or private. WHAT TO DO: To apply for state financial aid, you will need to submit the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA) or a paper FAFSA directly to the college s financial aid office. Visit AIE.org/state/TASFA to download and complete a TASFA. Refer to the TASFA s back page to find out if your school requires a TASFA or FAFSA. AIE.ORG/STATE/TASFA 12\ YOUR YOUR FUTURE/12

15 RESOURCES FOR YOUR COLLEGE JOURNEY Getting a college diploma or certificate may seem complicated, but there are resources to help you on your way. Here are just a few. TEXAS FINANCIAL AID INFORMATION CENTER (TFAIC) The Texas Financial Aid Information Center (TFAIC) is free and available to all Texas students and families. TFAIC representatives can help you with admission and financial aid applications, direct you to resources on planning and paying for college, and explain federal and Texas-based financial aid programs and services. Help is available in Spanish and English. Monday Thursday, 8 a.m. 6 p.m. Central Time, and Friday, 8 a.m. 5 p.m. Central Time ADVENTURES IN EDUCATION Want to get your college answers online? You ll find a great resource in TG s Adventures In Education (AIE ) website. The site helps you plan and apply for college, understand financial aid, learn how to manage money while in school, and prepare for your career. The site is available in Spanish and English. OTHER RESOURCES Your college s financial aid office or student services area Mapping Your Future Scholarships.com FinAid the Smart Student Guide to Financial Aid Department of Education Federal Student Aid YOUR FUTURE/13

16 ABOUT TG TG promotes educational access and success so that students can realize their college and career dreams. As a public, nonprofit corporation, TG offers resources to help students and families plan and prepare for college, learn the basics of money management, and repay their federal student loans. For more information about TG, visit To learn more about college and career planning, visit TG s Adventures In Education (AIE ) at To request permission to reproduce any of the information provided, please call TG Communications at (800) , ext Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation

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