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Financial Aid Basics
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Financial Aid Basics
Applying for ScholarshipsDo you want your child to go to college, but don’t think you or your family can afford it? There are several different kinds of financial assistance available to help. Some are need-based, some are based on academic or athletic performance, and others are available based on a student’s or family’s ability to borrow money. There are four main types of financial aid for education:

  • scholarships — “gift aid” (which means the student is not required to pay back the amount). Scholarships are offered by colleges and other organizations, and students must generally meet certain criteria to apply.
  • grants —gift aid that is based on financial need. There are several different types of grants including the Pell Grant and the Texas Grant.
  • loans —a form of “self-help aid.” Students who receive loans must pay back those loans with interest at a specified time, generally after they have completed their education.
  • work-study —a form of self-help aid where students work part-time, generally at the college.

For need-based financial aid, including loans and many scholarships, students must fill out the “Free Application for Federal Student Aid,” or FAFSA for short. No matter how many schools you are applying to, you only need to fill out one FAFSA application. The FAFSA should be completed as soon as possible after January during your child’s Senior Year of high school, if they are planning to enroll in college the following Fall. Keep in mind that your child will have to fill out and submit the FAFSA application ever year while they are in school. If you think your child does not qualify for aid, you should still fill out the application just in case they may. Once you’ve completed the FAFSA, you will receive information about grants and student loans that your child qualifies for. Education loans have a much more reduced interest rate than other types of loans or credit; there are both student loan and parent loan options with payment options after your child completes their education. Keep in mind that loans for education purposes are investments in your child’s future and increasing the amount of money they can make in their lifetime.

Once you’ve completed the required FAFSA form, there may be additional scholarship application forms specific to each college or university that can be used for scholarship opportunities available at that college. Each college’s website will have a link to their financial aid office, where you can get more information about specific scholarship opportunities available at that college.

Check out these websites for more information about financial aid opportunities.

Other places to look for scholarships include local charitable organizations, civic groups, and area foundations. Communities often have several different organizations that provide scholarships to local students. Check with the high school guidance counselor or college financial aid office for details on how to apply for these kinds of scholarships that are available from the community.

Another form of financial assistance that is available for some health care careers is called loan repayment. This is a form of assistance where the student, after completing his or her college degree, will agree to work in an underserved community for a certain period of time, generally 2-3 years, in exchange for the sponsoring organization repaying part or all of the loan. This opportunity is available particularly for primary care health professionals (primary care physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, etc) who will practice in a rural or urban area that has a federal underserved designation. For more information about these opportunities, visit the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s websites at and

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