Someone very famous once said: “No one gets a free ride.” As it turns out, they were wrong. In Texas, many four-year colleges offer free tuition programs for students from low-income and middle-income families. Other colleges offer very generous tuition discounting based on a family’s need.
Additionally, several two-year college districts have launched “Last-Dollar” scholarships which cover the tuition cost not covered by federal, state and institutional grants. Dallas Promise, funded through Dallas Community College District Foundation, is such program.
Here is a list of twelve (12) “free tuition” programs in Texas:
1. Dallas College District
Students must apply to participate in the Dallas County Promise program which covers college tuition not met by other federal, state and institutional grants and scholarships (gift aid) at partner colleges. The program is funded through Dallas College Foundation and includes a Success Coach component.
The partner colleges include Dallas College, Texas A&M University-Commerce, Texas A&M University-Texarkana, Midwestern State University, and Southern Methodist University. Students are able to enter or transfer to most of the partner colleges tuition-free based on income eligibility (family income of $50,000 or less). For more information, please visit Dallas County Promise.
– Open to all graduating high school students from 57 participating Promise High Schools in Dallas County.
– Application required. High school seniors must apply to participate in this program around the same time they are applying to college. Applications open October 1, 2019 and must be submitted by February 7, 2020 (based on 2019 information).
– Students who graduate high school with a high school diploma or an Associates Degree (collegiate high school graduates) can apply to attend one of the partner colleges.
2. Texas A&M University – College Station
Aggie Assurance: (Whoop!) This “free tuition” program covers tuition costs for future Aggies.
– Income below $60,000: Grants and Scholarships to meet the tuition costs.
– The program does not cover room and board and fees.
– Students must be eligible for the federal Pell Grant.
3. Texas Tech University
Red Raider Guarantee: This plan guarantees tuition and mandatory fees (based on 30 credit hours per academic school year) to new entering freshmen and transfer students with an Associate’s degree.
– Family must have an adjusted gross income of $40,000 or below.
– Student must be enrolled full time (12 hours or more each semester – Fall/Spring only).
– Student must be Texas resident and eligible for the federal Pell Grant.
4. University of Houston
Cougar Promise: Guaranteed free tuition for new freshmen starting in Fall 2019.
– Student from family with an adjusted gross income up to $50,000: 100% free tuition.
– Students must complete the FAFSA, list the University of Houston and be eligible for the Pell Grant.
5. University of Texas at Dallas
Tuition Promise: The “free tuition” program is available for first-time students.
– Students from families earning $25,000 or less receive 100% free tuition.
– Students must qualify for the Federal Pell Grant.
6. University of Texas at Austin
Texas Advance Commitment: Beginning in Fall 2020, the university will offer free tuition to students with household income of $65,000 or less. The university also provides partial tuition support for families earning up to $125,000.
– Student from family with income up to $65,000 receive 100% free tuition.
– Student from family with income up to $125,00 receive partial tuition support.
– Must be a Texas resident and Pell Grant eligible.
– Submit a FAFSA or TASFA.
– Have demonstrated financial need.
7. Lamar University
Lamar Promise: This free tuition program is available to entering freshman.
– Student from family with income of $25,000 or less.
– Must be eligible for full Pell Grant.
– Must be a dependent student (per FAFSA) and eligible or Texas in-state tuition.
– Must complete FAFSA or TASFA Available for up to four years.
8. Stephen F. Austin University
Purple Promise Guarantee Program: This free tuition program is a “last-dollar” program that pays any tuition costs not covered by other grants and scholarships.
– Student from family with adjusted gross income of $30,000 or less based on info provided in FAFSA.
– Eligible for Federal Pell Grant.
– Must be Texas resident.
9. Sam Houston State University
Bearkat Promise: Covers any mandatory tuition and fees not covered by other grants and scholarships.
– Adjusted Gross Income of $25,000 or less
– Eligible to receive Federal Pell Grant
– Texas resident
10. Angelo State University
Blue & Gold Guarantee: The program is designed to help families afford college and is considered a “last-dollar” scholarship.
– Student from a family with income of $40,000 or less.
– Must submit the FAFSA and be Pell Grant eligible
– Must be a Texas resident.
11. Texas A&M University-Commerce
A&M-Commerce Pledge Program: The program will cover any tuition balance not covered by other scholarships or grants.
– Family adjusted gross income of $50,000 or less.
– Expected Family Contribution (EFC) between 0 and $5,576.
– Reserved for students entering as freshman.
12. Midwestern State University-Texas
Mustang’s Guarantee Program: Eligible new students who have never earned a Bachelor’s degree can take advantage of this program. This program is a “last-dollar” scholarship and meets tuition costs not covered by other grants and scholarships.
– Student from family with adjusted gross income of $50,000 or less.
– Student must be Texas resident and Pell Grant eligible.
– Must earn at least 12 hours at the end of fall and spring semesters.
The other saying: “Why pay for it when you can get it for free” applies here. This list is by no means exhaustive, so for more information check with the Financial Aid Office at the college you are interested in attending. They can provide more up-to-date information on any free tuition program they offer.