Applying to College
Applying to college can seem overwhelming and confusing. To help make the process easier:
- Talk to your high school counselor about college options and how to apply to colleges. Discuss with the counselor how you can apply for financial assistance for school.
- Start researching early so you can know what colleges, universities, and vocational programs expect of students and what is accepted (GPA, test scores, transcripts, essays, community involvement, extracurricular activities, etc.).
- Try to narrow your choice down to at least 3 schools you want to apply to.
- Once you've selected your school you can apply with one application at applytexas.org. Be sure you have all of the documents and information needed before you apply so you can finish the application in one setting if possible.
- Apply as early as possible!!! Count all of your extracurricular, volunteer activities, employment, etc.
- If the application says an essay is optional, take the time to write an essay to show that you are truly interested in being accepted.
- After you apply, be on the lookout for letters requesting more information and be sure to send the requested information as soon as possible to avoid a delay in your application being processed.
Whatever education you’re trying to get, beware of “fake” schools, scams, and for profit, private colleges that may give you a certificate or degree that is no good for a job or the next school you want to go to.
Hint 1: If it seems too fast, easy, or cheap, run! The rewards of education require some work.
Hint 2: If the school is contacting you, and a person who sounds like a sales person is trying to push you to go there, it’s probably not right. Most legitimate schools do not have to be pushy.
Websites for Researching Colleges
College Foster Care Student Liaisons
Depending on which Texas college or university you attend, you will have various resources to help you navigate college life. Check out the list of college foster care liaisons to see who you can contact at your college for questions or concerns.
Paying for College
Paying for college can seem like the biggest hurdle to going. You have resources available to help cover the cost. Your Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) worker, caseworker, and other caring adults are available to help you with the application and answer other questions you may have about your financial benefits. The College For All Texans Financial Aid page has information about how to apply for financial aid and the types of financial aid available.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Once you've been accepted to a college, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to find out what federal financial assistance is available to you. This is also a requirement for applying to the ETV program. Fill Out the FAFSA.
Your college will provide you with an award letter showing you how much money is available to you during the school year in grants, scholarships, and loans.
Working hard in and outside of the classroom can pay off for you—literally. For making good grades, volunteering in your community, participating in extra-curricular activities and making other positive choices, you make yourself eligible to receive scholarships. Check with the financial aid offices at each college about available scholarships.
Financial Aid Programs Specifically for Foster Youth
State College and Tuition Waiver
The college tuition waiver provides exemptions of tuition and fees at Texas public institutions of higher education for youth formerly in DFPS conservatorship, adopted youth, and certain other youth. Students must enroll in a state supported school or a dual credit course by their 25th birthday. The waiver can be obtained from your PAL worker. To see if you are eligible, visit the College Tuition and Fee Waiver page on the DFPS website.
Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program
The federal ETV program may provide up to $5,000 an academic year to eligible students for college related expenses including rent, books, utilities, childcare, computers, personal expenses, transportation and tuition, if applicable. Funds awarded are based on the college's estimated cost of attendance. To see if you are eligible, visit the Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program page on the DFPS website.
C. Ed Davis PAL Scholarship
The C. Ed Davis PAL Scholarship is for basic non-tuition needs for former foster youth who are majoring in government, political science, history, or other pre-law field. A scholarship does not need to be paid back. [letter & application]
Freshman Success Fund
The Freshmen Success Fund for foster youth is a one-time grant of $1,000 for first time college freshmen students or first time students enrolled in a Texas State Technical College. Eligible students are youth formerly in foster DFPS care. Grants are awarded to at least four students per year. [letter & application]
Tips about Financial Aid Scams and Fraud:
Fees. Don’t pay up-front fees, processing or handling fees, origination fees, or advanced fees.
Pre-Approval. Pre-approval for student financial aid or a scholarship are scams. That’s not how it works.
Purchases. You will never be required to purchase a product for financial aid or a scholarship.
Experts. Do not pay so-called experts. If someone says it’s too complicated and only they truly understand it, don’t believe them.
Know the Difference between federal loans and private. See the Federal Student Aid site’s page on Federal Versus Private loans for help.