Money for college comes in a variety of pathwaysgrants, scholarships, loans, work-study, and family contribution. Below is some information that will help your family make the best financial decision for your education and your future.





The first step in selecting a college that financially matches your expectations is learning more about true college costs.

A college’s true cost is often called its full “cost of attendance.” The full cost of attendance includes tuition and fees AND the following:

  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Books and lab fees
  • Food
  • Additional miscellaneous expenses

Not every student will need their full cost of attendance met. For example, if you are living at home while attending your local community college – you may not need housing, food, and transportation covered in the same ways that a student living on campus of a four-year university would.

Additionally, the full cost of attendance is not a student’s “net price,” which is how much a student would be responsible for once their grants and scholarships are deducted.

This means a student may never pay the full cost of attendance for the college they attend. Some schools have high costs of attendance but may offer generous financial aid packages for students based on need and/or merit. Two examples are below.


Scenario: Student living at home while attending local community college


Financial Aid Breakdown
Houston Community College Tuition $3,000 per year
Books/Lab fees $1,000
Federal Pell Grant $6,095 per year
Total Net Price $0 – Refund of $2,095 to Student



Scenario: Student living on campus while attending local, public four-year university


Financial Aid Breakdown
UH Main Campus $11,000 per year
Housing $9,000 per year
Books/Lab fees $1,500
Transportation, Personal Expenses $3,500
Federal Pell Grant $6,095 per year
Texas Educational Opportunity Grant $5,500 per year
UH Institutional Scholarship $10,000 per year
Total Net Price $3,405






One way that students pay for their education is through federal and state loans. In order to qualify for state and federal loans you must complete the FAFSA. Loans must be paid back, often with interest; however, federal and state loans often offer families lower interest rates and better repayment plan options. More information about Federal loan repayment can be found here.






Preparing for affording college doesn’t need to start your senior year of high school. In fact, there are several ways to prepare financially for the additional costs of college. Below are a few options to consider.

How to Save for College: 8 Tips for Getting Started

The Texas College Savings Plan

Texas Tuition Promise Fund

Education IRA (Education Saving Account)