What is Financial Aid? Pt. IV: Grants

Hello, and welcome to the fourth and final installment of our “What is Financial Aid?” series! Today we’ll be discussing the specific types of grants available to students, with an emphasis on those available to those of y’all who will be attending public Texas universities.

What are grants?

Grants, much like most of the best things in life, are free!

Grants, much like most of the best things in life, are free!

Grants are offered by federal or state governments or by institutions themselves. What’s unique about grants is that there is no expectation to repay the grant amount—they are essentially free money. The one caveat is that many institutional and state grants require you to complete a certain number of work-study hours as part of the grant agreement, but your school’s financial aid office will be able to set you up with a work-study job, which can include TA’ing, tutoring, and assisting in laboratories.

The Pell Grant

The Pell Grant is one of the most well-known grants that the federal government offers. As you might’ve guessed, the Pell Grant is only offered to those with demonstrated need, as determined by FAFSA’s Ouija board. The maximum amount per year you may receive as a Pell Grant varies by year, but the maximum possible award for 2015-2016 is $5,775. Again, if you qualify for a Pell, you might not necessarily receive the full amount, as the amount offered depends on a variety of factors, including the cost of attendance and your financial need.

TEXAS Grant

TEXAS: greatest state in the union or really forced acronym? You decide.

TEXAS: greatest state in the union or really forced acronym? You decide.

As with all government programs, the TEXAS grant comes with its own convoluted initialism, with TEXAS standing for “Towards Excellence, Access and Success.” This grant has a maximum of $8,480 for the 2015-2016 school year, and through the power of the magic 8 ball, your school will determine if your family’s financial burden qualifies you for this grant. If the financial aid office determines you’ve passed this step, you must then show that you graduated from a Texas high school, public or private, and enrolled in an undergraduate institution within 16 months of graduating.

To be priority consideration for this grant, you must have submitted your FAFSA profile before March 1 and meet at least 2 of the following requirements, as taken from the official TEXAS grant website. Aside from FAFSA, there is no additional application for this grant; all information regarding your eligibility for TEXAS is contained within FAFSA and your original college admissions application.

AREA REQUIREMENT(S)
Advanced Academic Program 12 hours of college credit (dual credit or AP courses), complete the Distinguished Achievement Program (DAP), or complete the International Baccalaureate Program (IB).
TSI Readiness Meet the Texas Success Initiatives (TSI) assessment thresholds or qualify for an exemption.
Class Standing Graduate in the top one/third of the HS graduating class or have a B average.
Advanced Math Complete at least one math course beyond Algebra II as determined by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

Texas Public Education Grant

The Texas Public Education Grant is available to all you poor souls who weren't lucky enough to be born in Texas.

The Texas Public Education Grant is available to all you poor souls who weren’t lucky enough to be born in Texas.

The Texas Public Education grant is very similar to the TEXAS grant in that there is no additional application to fill out besides FAFSA—by submitting FAFSA, you are automatically considered for the Texas Public Education grant. Also similar is that this grant considers financial need and academic merit, but the key difference between this and the TEXAS grant is that there is no need to be a resident of Texas (i.e. have graduated from a Texas high school) to qualify. This grant is open to all students attending a public Texas college or university, regardless of their nation or state of residency. The award amount varies by institution, as every school has its own unique maximum award amount.

This post is part of a series. Other parts of this series can be found here:

What is Financial Aid? Pt. I: Scholarships vs. Grants vs. Loans.

What Is Financial Aid? Pt. II: Loans.

What Is Financial Aid? Pt. III: Paying Off Loans

 

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