|Gina and I believe that education is the key to successful individuals and families and for a vibrant America. Because I so value my experience at Texas A&M and Gina’s 18 years as a teacher, we are committed to helping ensure that more young Americans will have the opportunity of higher education. Having raised two children, however, I am well aware of the rising costs of a good education. In fact, Gina and I have personally funded endowments to help students , including first generation college students in Texas receive college educations.
I assure you that I will support any legislation to help lessen the financial burden of higher education for students. This is why I believe that student loans are so important. The student loan program allows students and parents to borrow the money necessary to make higher education a reality for so many students in our communities.
The following information will help guide students through the process of locating and applying for financial aid. (Prepared by the Congressional Research Service for Members of Congress, updated February 2013).
The Basics: Getting Started
Student Aid and Where It Comes From
- Start gathering information early.
- Free information is readily available from:
- High school counselors
- College and career school financial aid offices (where you plan to attend)
- Local and college libraries
- Federal Student Aid (U.S. Department of Education)
- Other Internet sites (search terms student financial aid OR assistance)
- Ask questions of counselors: you may have exceptional circumstances that affect your eligibility.
- Keep copies of all forms and correspondence: you must reapply for aid each year.
- Parents of students: save money long before your child attends college.
- Good overviews:
- Beware of scholarship scams -- don't pay for free information!
Basic assistance categories:
Federal Student Aid:
- Financial need-based
- Remember that students and their parents are responsible for paying what they can-- financial aid is a supplement, not a substitute, for family resources.
- Non need-based
- Factors include academic excellence, ethnic background, or organization membership.
- Corporations may also offer assistance to employees and children.
States offer residents a variety of scholarships, loans, and tuition exemptions.
- Provides nearly 70% of student aid under Loans, Grants and Work/study programs.
- Available to all need-based applicants; some loans and competitive scholarships for non need-based.
- Free information from the U.S. Department of Education:
- Loans, the most common federal aid, must be repaid when you graduate or leave college.
- Scholarships/grants are mostly need-based and require no repayment:
- Other grants, scholarships, and fellowships, mostly graduate level: search the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) by Beneficiary such as "Student or Trainee" or "Graduate Student".
- "Congressional" scholarships:
- Named for Member of Congress or other prominent individual (such as Byrd Honors Scholarships, Fulbright fellowships)
- Merit-based and highly competitive
- Members of Congress do not play a role in selecting recipients
- Work study programs allow you to earn money while in school:
- For questions not covered by the Department of Education website, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243.
Colleges and universities provide some 20% of aid, most need-based. Check university websites and the institution's financial aid office when you apply for admission.
Private foundations, corporations, and organizations offer scholarships or grants:
Targeted Aid For Special Groups
Interested in public service?
Federal assistance programs seek to encourage people to work in geographic areas or professions where there's a particular need (such as doctors in underserved areas); encourage underrepresented groups to enter a particular profession; and provide aid in exchange for services provided (such as military service).
- AmeriCorps Education Award
Volunteers who complete one year of service receive an education award for current higher education expenses or to repay student loans.
- Army Tuition Assistance
Additional benefits for Army personnel.
Bureau of Health Professions
Scholarships and loans to needy health profession students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Indian Health Service
Scholarships for American Indian/Alaskan Native health profession students and loan repayment for persons working in IHS facilities.
- National Health Service Corps
Scholarships and loan repayment for health profession students who agree to work in underserved areas.
- Nursing Scholarships
Offered in exchange for two years of service in areas with critical nursing shortages.
Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC):
- Student Educational Employment
Employments, internships, cooperative education, scholarships, grants, and fellowships with federal agencies.
Aid for private K-12 education: No direct federal assistance, check with schools themselves:
Repaying Your Loans
After college, the federal government has ways to help you repay your loans.