Texas College Loan Programs Get Cash InfusionJuly 29th, 2015 by admin.capstone
Texas college students have access to more than $100 million in additional funding for three state grant programs next year — part of $1.1 billion in total state financial aid — according to figures from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
At the same time, a tuition reimbursement program for Texas veterans and their spouses and children faced a contentious debate but remained intact, at least until the Legislature meets again, in 2017.
College students will see a slight gain of 5 percent over last year in financial help from the state. While some programs, like the Top 10 Percent Scholarship and the B-on-Time Loan program, are being phased out, Texas is funding others more fully.
The Texas Grant program will serve about 85 percent of eligible students with an average award of $5,000, according to the board. Students apply for the grant and most other state aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, early in the year.
At the same time, Senate Bill 1750 was passed to encourage schools to have at least half their state work-study students take off-campus jobs. Texas is one of just 14 states with a state-supported work-study program, according to the Center for Public Policy Priorities. Previously, all the funded jobs were on campus.
Another resource for Texas students is the state’s College Access Loan program, which is funded by general-obligation bonds instead of the state budget. The program cannot be marketed through the schools, but students can apply at www.hhloans.com.
The CAL program recently reduced its interest rate from 5.25 percent to 4.5 percent — the lowest rate for student loans in the country.
A mix of grants and scholarships, loans and work is still the norm for financing college, but for the first time since 2010, parents are shelling out more than any other category, according to a study released this week by the college lender Sallie Mae.
“The Bank of Mom and Dad is open for business for the first time in five years,” Sallie Mae spokesman Rick Castellano said. “Parents are less worried about job loss or home values declining.”
Based on the study, this year’s breakdown of college costs showed:
â–ª 32 percent from parent income and savings
â–ª 30 percent from scholarships and grants
â–ª 16 percent from student borrowing
â–ª 11 percent from student income and savings
â–ª 6 percent from parent borrowing
â–ª 5 percent from relatives and friends
The study showed that the belt-tightening involved in getting a college education has also loosened. Only 48 percent of students chose to live at home this year to save on college costs, down from 57 percent in 2013.
Another worry — rising tuition — has also eased over the past five years. In 2010, half of families believed schools would raise tuition. This year, that figure was 27 percent.
A new question in the survey showed that a surprising 74 percent of students worked at least part time or seasonally while going to school.
“This goes to the broader idea that students have more skin in the game,” Castellano said. “By working and other measures, it meant that 6 in 10 students did not have to borrow at all.”
While 97 percent of families believe that college education is an investment in the future, only 40 percent have a plan to pay for it, the study showed.
In families that do plan, students are likelier to pursue a bachelor’s degree and they borrow 40 percent less than those without a plan, the study said.