Austin Community College District Student Loans
Whether you are a recent graduate of high school looking to jumpstart your college career, or a working adult seeking potential career advancement through higher education, Austin Community College District is sure to have a program for you. Over 75 percent of students at Austin Community College District (ACC) attend part-time, with flexible scheduling options and multiple associate’s degree, certificate, adult, and continuing education programs available.
ACC strives to help all students achieve their academic goals with career services, professional development, and healthy transfer options for undergraduate students hoping to continue on to a bachelor’s degree. In fact, 82 percent of ACC students are enrolled in classes with the intention to either transfer to a four-year degree program at a bigger college or university, or to earn a degree or certificate. Student-to-teacher ratio is low at ACC, promoting small class sizes and personal interaction between students and staff. With campuses in the heart of the diverse and vibrant city of Austin, Texas, Austin Community College District is the first choice for many local students.
Costs Associated With Austin Community College District
One of the first things to consider when deciding on your higher education path is the cost of tuition. Community colleges are public schools that are generally less expensive than four-year degree-granting institutions. Students can therefore take their first two years of classes toward a bachelor’s degree at a community college usually for less overall cost. Students who live in-district receive the lowest tuition rates, while out-of-state or international students will pay the highest amounts.
Tuition rates for the 2014-2015 academic year at Austin Community College District were:
- $85 per hour for in-district Texas residents
- $287 per hour for out-of-district Texas residents
- $361 per hour for out-of-state and international students
- $50 course fee for some specific classes
Each of these tuition rates includes a general fee of $15 per credit hour, a $2 per hour Student Success fee charged for student activities, $1 per hour for student accident insurance (in some cases), and a $1 sustainability fee. Out-of-district, out-of-state, and international students also have a $202 out-of-district fee included in their price as well. For a full-time student who takes 15 credit hours and lives in-district, tuition fees are estimated to be $2,490 a year on average for both fall and spring semesters at ACC.
In addition to tuition and school fees, students will need books and supplies. These expenses are estimated to be around $1,200 a year, although you can save money by renting your books or buying them used.
ACC provides a Cheap Books Resource Guide with more information on where and how to do so. Personal expenses also add up to an estimated $2,208, and transportation costs are around $1,600 a year. There is a $15 a year parking fee to park on a ACC campus. Disabled veterans and military medal recipients can park for free with the proper documentation. Austin is also considered a green city with multiple bike lanes, public transportation, and carpool options that can all save you money on transportation costs.
Austin Community College District does not offer resident housing for students, so room and board off campus in the surrounding areas must also be considered. Students choosing to live at home and commute or share costs with a roommate can save money on housing. Austin is considered one of the hippest, but also one of the most expensive cities in Texas to live in, with apartment prices averaging over $800 a month. ACC estimates that students are likely to spend $9,280 on room and board costs a year. Of course, like in any city, some areas are more expensive than others. The area near the University of Texas and the Highland neighborhood may be cheaper than the Allendale and the Old West Austin neighborhoods, for example.
All of these costs should be used to help you calculate your total cost of attendance (COA) at Austin Community College District. ACC, in partnership with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, makes a Net Price Calculator available to help you estimate your COA at ACC. Keep in mind that this is only an estimate and actual costs may differ.
Some students may qualify for waivers or exemptions that can reduce the cost of tuition. ACC accepts many waivers for its students based on a variety of criteria and requirements, up to the full amount of tuition costs. Some of these waivers or exemptions are based on academic merit, while others may be for disability status. For a full list of tuition waivers and exemptions and the program eligibility requirements, see College for All Texans. The Workforce Investment Act (AIC) also provides assistance for students with educational expenses. You will have register with a WIA office in Austin before enrolling in ACC. Austin Community College District understands that sometimes emergency situations may occur that could make it financially difficult for you to continue to pay your educational costs. Students who have taken at least 15 credits at ACC and are enrolled in at least six credits who can document a financial emergency or catastrophic event may be eligible for up to $500 from the Student Emergency Fund to help you avoid disrupting your education.
Receiving and Using Scholarship Funds
Scholarships and grants are forms of free money you don’t have to pay back that many organizations and non-profits may offer in order to help you cover educational costs. You should check with outside organizations or clubs that you may belong to that may offer funds for academic merit or based on your field of study or residency. Award amounts, eligibility requirements, and the application process may vary, and you will need to check with each individual organization for more details.
The Austin Community College (ACC) Foundation also offers many scholarships for ACC students based on academic merit, family situation, financial need, or field of study. You will need to fill out the General Scholarship Application, which will automatically consider you for all applicable scholarship opportunities through the ACC Foundation. Active duty members of the numerous branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as U.S. Military veterans may qualify for funding to help pay for college. ACC has comprised a list of military-related scholarships here. Students involved in the national volunteer organization of AmeriCorps may be entitled to funding for educational expenses as well.
When you receive a scholarship, funds are disbursed directly to ACC’s financial aid office on your behalf. ACC will note your scholarship and amount and then apply the funds toward your tuition and fee balance, usually within a week before courses begin. Make sure to be aware of your award amount in case the funds are not enough to cover your education bills. You will need to pay any remaining fees to ACC directly.
Steps for Obtaining Financial Aid
In order to apply for financial aid at Austin Community College District, you will need to complete and submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. This entitles you to federal, state, and institutional financial aid upon qualification. In order to complete your FAFSA you must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen. If you are an international student and also a resident of Texas, you may still qualify for state financial aid if you complete the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA). Both of these forms are used to calculate your level of financial need, which is measured by utilizing your income records, tax documents, bank statements, and employment information as well as your household and personal information. Students under age 24, who are unmarried and don’t have any dependents may be considered dependent students. If you fit this bill, you will also need your parents’ information when submitting your FAFSA.
Financial aid is based on the difference between your expected family contribution (EFC) and your total COA at your chosen school. In order to be eligible for federal, state, or institutional financial aid, you are required to have completed high school, obtained a GED, or have an equivalent proving you are eligible for postsecondary education. You must also be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree- or certificate-granting program and maintain satisfactory academic progress while in school. Males are required to be registered for the U.S. Selective Service (registration occurs between ages 18 and 25).
In order to complete your FAFSA online, you will need to create a FSA ID. You only need your name, birth date, and Social Security number to set up your PIN. You can then use this as your electronic signature to complete your FAFSA on time each year. You will need to submit a new FAFSA each year, although once your records are in the system, the process is more streamlined. Pay attention to submission deadlines and be sure to apply early as many forms of aid are based on a first-come, first-served basis.
You will also need to complete the ACC application process in order to be considered for financial aid. Austin Community College District uses ACCmail and Online Services as the primary form of communication; therefore, you will need to set up your ACCmail account in order to complete the financial aid application process.
The first step to activate your ACCmail account is to claim your ACCeID. You will then confirm your account and choose a password. Once you have successfully logged into the system, you will be able to receive and respond to notices regarding your financial aid application. You will receive an award letter in your ACCmail account detailing your financial aid package that you will then accept or deny.
If you are borrowing funds, you will need to sign your Master Promissory Note (MPN) and complete your entrance counseling to receive your funds. Funds are then disbursed directly to the school to pay your tuition and fees. Any remaining funds will be refunded to your ACC OneCard to use for any additional educational expenses.
Federal, State, and Institutional Financial Aid
Federal, state, and institutional financial aid is either borrowed in the form of a student loan or gifted in the form of a grant. Federal and state grants that ACC accepts include:
- Federal Pell Grant: undergraduate students may receive between $297 and $2,865 a semester for up to 12 semesters while pursuing their first degree
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): students with an EFC of zero and who are enrolled in at least six credits may receive around $300 a semester
- Texas Educational Opportunity Grant (TEOG): Texas resident students attending a public two-year college taking at least six credits may receive up to $1,350 a semester
- Texas Public Educational Grant (TPEG): Texas resident or non-resident students enrolled in six credits may receive around $300 a semester
- TEXAS (Toward EXcellence, Access and Success) Grant: students currently receiving TEXAS Grant funding and enrolled in nine credits may receive up to $1,350 a semester in renewal funds
All of these grants are based on the demonstration of financial need as determined by your FAFSA or TASFA. Award amounts are also based on enrollment status. The FSEOG, TEOG, and TPEG have limited funds available and are granted on a first-come, first-served basis. These grant programs have set amounts each year to be distributed among students requiring assistance. The earlier you apply, the more likely you are to receive and maximize these awards.
Federal Pell Grants are awarded to all qualifying students, although the award amount cannot exceed your cost of attendance at ACC. Financial aid awards may also include the eligibility for the Federal Work-Study program. If this is the case, you will need to apply for work-study at ACC directly, and not all students are guaranteed employment. Work-study programs grant students with part-time jobs, up to 15 hours a week, working on campus in a community service capacity. Each campus has their own employment opportunities, and students are matched with their field of study or interest level when possible. Students are paid every two weeks to help offset educational expenses. These are considered earned funds that do not need to be repaid.
In addition to gifted funds, federal financial aid packages may include the ability to borrow money for college through the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program. Federal student loans have low and fixed interest rates as well as generous repayment plans and options. With a federal student loan, the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. Students demonstrating financial need may qualify for the Direct Subsidized Loan, and the government helps with interest costs. Students who don’t qualify for subsidized loans may still be eligible to borrow Direct Unsubsidized Loans. Students may borrow both subsidized and unsubsidized loans at the same time for up to between $5,500 and $12,500 a year, depending on enrollment status, year in school, and dependent student status. Parents of undergraduate students may also borrow funds to help pay for their student’s education. These are called Direct PLUS Loans, and they are not based on financial need. Parents will be required to complete a credit check and may be able to borrow the entire COA minus any financial aid the student is receiving.
Private Student Loans
There is an additional way to fund your education that isn’t through federal or state programs. You can borrow funds from a private financial organization or institution, such as a credit union or bank. Private student loans are generally considered a last resort as they may have high and variable interest rates. Repayment terms are usually not as flexible as they are with federal student loans either. You will need to contact individual lenders in order to obtain a private student loan, and most have their own application process.
Private student loans are not generally based on financial need. Borrowers are subject to a credit check and oftentimes will require a cosigner in order to be eligible to receive funds. Private student loans are often referred to as alternative loans and should only be considered after all forms of federal financial aid are exhausted. You are responsible for making sure ACC has all the current information on your student loan and lender.