Houston Community College Student Loans
Houston Community College is an open enrollment, public institution, featuring an academic community for students seeking an associate’s degree or certificate program as well as workforce enhancement through educational opportunities. With a diverse student body split between young adults pursuing an affordable option for their first two years of college before transferring to a four-year degree program school and working adults juggling families and careers while enhancing their professional development through academic advancement, Houston Community College offers a variety of programs spread out around the city of Houston, Texas.
Cost of Attendance
In order to help you budget your total cost of attendance (COA) at Houston Community College, you will need to take several factors into account, such as:
- Tuition and school fees
- Room and board
- Transportation costs
- Books and school supplies
- Personal expenses
Houston Community College is an affordable option for students, offering tuition rates much lower than other state colleges and universities. Students who are considered in-district will receive the least expensive tuition at a rate of $67.40 per hour at the current posted rates. Out-of-district students who reside in the state of Texas will pay $139.40 per hour at the current rates, while out-of-state residents will pay the most per hour at a rate of $155.90. These rates include base tuition, a general fee, technology fee, student activity fee, and out-of-district fees (where applicable). An additional $6 recreational fee is also added to these hourly rates.
Houston Community College is considered a commuter campus, meaning that there is no resident housing directly on campus. Students live off campus and commute to school each day. Room and board costs may vary greatly depending on where you choose to live. Generally speaking, the closer to the city center you live, the more expensive rent prices are. Average rent prices in the Houston area are $1,231 for a one-bedroom apartment, according to rentjungle.com, with Greater Heights being the most expensive neighborhood and Bellaire being the cheapest on average. Students who choose to live at home or split costs with a roommate can save money on rent.
Traffic in Houston can get congested during peak times. You may wish to plan your schedule accordingly if you live a fair distance from your campus. Public transportation is also an option, and students may apply for a discounted METRO Fare card to ride the bus for a discounted rate of 50% in order to cut transportation costs.
The Texas Higher Education Board estimates that full-time students at Houston Community College, attending both fall and spring semesters, will spend around $2,250 on textbooks annually as well as $1,700 on transportation and $2,360 on other personal expenses. Houston Community College estimates that the total COA for full-time, in-district students living on their own to be around $7,485 a semester. Your actual costs may be higher or lower depending on your specific circumstances.
Applying for Financial Aid
In order to apply for financial aid at Houston Community College, you must first apply to the school itself. After acceptance, you can then submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, by creating a FSA ID online with your personal information and Social Security number. The FAFSA will determine your eligibility for federal and state grants and federal loans based on financial need. In order to be eligible for federal, state, or most forms of institutional aid, you must meet basic eligibility requirements. You must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, for example, as well as have a valid Social Security number. Undocumented students who are residents of Texas may submit the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA) in order to compete for state financial aid funds.
Additionally, you must have a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate and be enrolled in and attending classes toward an eligible degree or certificate program at least half-time, or taking at least six credits. Males must be registered for the U.S. Selective Service (registration must take place between your 18th and 25th birthdays), and you cannot have any other federal loans in default. You are expected to maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) while attending Houston Community College, and funds are required to be used for educational purposes only.
To complete your FAFSA, you will need your current tax information and any relevant financial or employment data. Students under age 24 who are unmarried and have no dependents may be considered dependent students. If you are a dependent student, you will also need your parents’ financial records and Social Security numbers to complete the FAFSA. Your FAFSA will determine your expected family contribution, or EFC, which is calculated to measure eligibility for financial aid programs.
Setting up a myHCC Account
In order to check your financial aid status, accept or decline your aid awards, receive refunds, and set up your student email, you will need to create a myHCC account. This is a simple process needing only your Social Security number, name, and date of birth. You will then create a user ID and password for future reference. Once you have a myHCC login and activate your HCC email account, you can see the current status of your financial aid application. After your FAFSA has processed, both you and the school will receive documentation of your award type and amounts. You can then decide whether or not to accept or decline your award partially or in its entirety. If you are eligible for student loans, only borrow what you need.
Once you agree to the terms, you can electronically sign your Master Promissory Note (MPN) and then funds can be disbursed directly into your Houston Community College account to pay for tuition and school fees. Any remaining funds are then refunded to you directly via Higher One to pay additional educational expenses like books, transportation, room and board, and child care. Higher One is a higher educational financial institution that Houston Community College uses to process its financial aid refunds. After you have earned your refund, a notice will be sent to Higher One to then release the funds to you either by EFT directly into your account or onto your EagleOne Card.
Aid Like a Paycheck
Beginning in the fall of 2014, Houston Community College is taking part in a research study conducted by MDRC about college student budgeting success. New students enrolling in financial aid may be randomly selected to receive their disbursements through Aid Like a Paycheck instead of through the traditional lump sum methods. The total amount of financial aid you receive will not change, rather the timing and amount you receive each disbursement will. This means that you may receive financial aid disbursements in biweekly increments.
While you do not have the ability to choose whether or not you are selected for this study or method of disbursement, you can opt out of sending your information and results to MDRC. The purpose of the Aid Like a Paycheck study is to determine if smaller disbursement amounts released more frequently will have a positive result on students and their budgeting and academic successes.
Financial aid awards come in two main forms: either free money that doesn’t have to be paid back or borrowed money that does. Grants and scholarships fall into this first category of gift money and are awarded by federal and state agencies upon completion of your FAFSA. Houston Community College accepts and participates in the following grant programs:
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant
- Texas Public Education Grant (TPEG)
- Texas Education Opportunity Grant (TEOG)
The Federal Pell Grant is offered mainly to undergraduate students seeking their first degree and based on financial need. The aid amount may be adjusted every year and for the 2016-2017 academic year, the maximum amount for students is $5,815. The actual amount you receive is dependent on your enrollment status, intention to complete the academic year, and the cost of attendance as well as your financial need. FSEOG funding is considered campus-based aid as the U.S. Department of Education disburses a set amount of FSEOG funds to Houston Community College to disburse to students with financial need.
Since there is a set amount of funds, not all students who qualify may receive FSEOG awards. FSEOG awards can vary from $100 to $4,000 a year. Apply early as these funds are released on a first-come, first-served basis. Unlike other federal grants, the TEACH Grant is not based on financial need, but rather on potential service. Students pursuing a career in teaching can receive up to $4,000 a year toward their education if they sign an “Agreement to Serve” and agree to work in a high-need and low-income field upon graduation. If you do not meet the service terms, grant funds are transferred to loan funds that will have to be paid back.
The state of Texas also uses information from your FAFSA to determine your eligibility for state grants in partnership with your college. Both state grants require that you be a resident of Texas to receive an award. Houston Community College sets maximum amounts for the TPEG, and award amounts cannot exceed your financial need or cost of attendance. Current maximum amounts for TEOG awards are $2,700 per year for public community college students attending school full-time.
Military and Educational Benefits
Additionally, U.S. military active duty members and veterans may apply for Military Tuition Assistance or use veterans benefits to pay for educational costs. Military Tuition Assistance may cover 100% of your tuition expenses up to a set maximum amount. Each branch of the service will have their own requirements and restrictions, and Houston Community College may require additional forms to use this funding to pay for your tuition. In some cases, benefits can be transferred to spouses or dependents as well. Check with your branch of service or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to determine all the details.
Houston Community College also offers waivers and tuition exemptions for certain students who meet specific criteria. Valedictorians graduating from a Texas high school may qualify, as may students from other nations in the western hemisphere, deaf or blind students, or children of disabled firemen or peace officers in the line of duty. For a full list of waivers and exemptions, check the Houston Community College website.
Scholarships and Work-Study Programs
Scholarships are another form of free money to be fully explored. Many are based on merit and granted from private and non-profit organizations. Others are based on gender, minority status, affiliation, residence, or field of study. You will need to apply for these outside scholarships directly. Houston Community College also offers scholarships through the HCC Foundation, which can be applied for online. One application will enter you into the running for all of the HCC Foundation scholarship opportunities.
Another option is for students to work part-time on or off campus to earn money to pay for tuition through the Federal Work-Study or Texas Work-Study Programs. Each of these matches students demonstrating financial need with community service jobs that relate to students’ interests or fields of study. Jobs are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, so if your financial aid award letter indicates that you are eligible for work-study, you should apply early.
All students who qualify will not be able to obtain a work-study job. You need to be enrolled at least as a part-time student (taking at least six credit hours) and pass an HCC background check to be eligible. Texas Work-Study programs require that you be a resident of Texas also. Students participating in work-study can work up to 19.5 hours a week and are paid on a semi-monthly basis. The current pay scale is $9.50 per hour for on-campus jobs and $10 per hour for off-campus employment. Students may only earn up to the amount of aid they are eligible for and are only paid for hours worked.
Students may still require additional funds after all opportunities for free money are explored and accessed. Houston Community College accepts federal student loans through the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program. Perkins and private student loans are not offered through Houston Community College. Direct Loans use the FAFSA to determine eligibility, and the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. Federal loans generally have low and fixed interest rates as well as multiple flexible repayment options.
Undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need may qualify for subsidized loans wherein the federal government pays all interest fees. For the most current interest rates for federal student loans, see the federal student aid website. Maximum amounts for subsidized and unsubsidized loans for undergraduate students are between $5,500 and $12,500 per year and depend on factors such as your year in school, dependent status, enrollment status, and financial need. Students may combine subsidized and unsubsidized loans up the maximum amounts.
Parents of undergraduate students can also take out a Direct PLUS Loan, which may cover the total COA minus any other financial aid received. Student borrowers at Houston Community College are required to attend both entrance and exit counseling in order to ensure full compliance with loan terms.
Types of Student Loans