Column: Many options to student loans for college

Teniente- Matson Photo: Courtesy Photo /Courtesy Photo / Liz Garza Williams @2015 210-299-4000

Planning for college? Don’t be intimidated by the costs. Instead consider your post-secondary education a partnership between you and an investor with resources to help pay for tuition and education-related expenses.

Savvy students should investigate funding through a number of educational partnerships, including grants provided by federal and state governments, and individual scholarships offered by universities. Student loans should not be the only option.

Eligible students can receive federal government funding in the form of grants to help pay for educational programs and tuition. Grants do not accrue interest, and students do not pay them back. Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify for these federal dollars, which are distributed based on regulated criteria.

The Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and the Academic Competitiveness Grant are a few of the most commonly awarded federal grants. Last semester, 47 percent of A&M-San Antonio students received a Pell Grant.

In addition to federal funding, there are additional financial resources available for targeted segments of the population. Such groups include veterans, foster care youth, under-represented groups and students with disabilities.

In Texas, grant opportunities include the Texas Public Educational Grant Program (TPEG) and the Texas Grant. Eligibility requirements are based on Texas residency, financial need and other criteria. Students can contact university financial aid offices to verify eligibility. Many local school districts offer grants or scholarships for their graduating seniors as they transition to higher education.

Another important partner is your preferred university where a variety of scholarships may be available. College or university scholarships are typically funded by donor partners who invest in high-potential students to help them pay for their education to make sure they graduate.

Great universities aggressively raise money for scholarships to help students earn their degrees. Donors and philanthropic foundations view students as important investments in the future of our state’s economic vitality. In 2016, scholarships accounted for 43 percent of all financial aid that students received from universities and colleges nationwide. Last year, more than 81 percent of A&M-San Antonio students qualified for financial aid.

Partnerships between you, funders and universities such as Texas A&M-San Antonio are joint investments in your success. Earning a bachelor’s degree is a wise investment that requires laser-focus in the classroom and stretching yourself with supplemental experiences to apply what you learn. Be resourceful and relentless. Dedicate time to thoroughly research funding options that match your educational and career goals. Be prepared to take advantage of every opportunity to achieve your college degree by preparing yourself for success without unnecessary debt. Start your search early and check in often with your school’s financial aid office to learn about new opportunities.

If you want to learn more about A&M-San Antonio’s academic programs and the financial aid available to students, please call 210-784-1103 or visit