Audience: Parents, students, counselors
Focus: Saving for college, financial aid
Big Picture: Under Programs on the Texas Comptroller’s page is this list of government-driven initiatives to help users explore financial aid opportunities for Texas colleges. The main focus is on starting early and putting away funds (and growing them) for tuition and expenses—both the College Savings Plans and Texas ABLE Program (for individuals with disabilities) sections provide a wealth of knowledge in this area. Matching programs, prepaid tuition programs (locking in future tuition at today’s prices), and scholarship opportunities are also discussed. The site is clear and concise—you won’t be overwhelmed with bells, whistles, or myriad ways to navigate—and is primed to help both parents and students make smart, powerful choices about their future.
Big Challenge Solved: There are lots of online resources for financial aid, but the Comptroller’s site keeps it laser-focused on Texas programs, scholarships, and schools—it’s a great place to start if in-state college is the way a student plans on going.
Must Use: The link out to the Texas Tuition Promise Fund allows parents and grandparents to contribute to and lock in tuition at today’s rates. Just be sure to keep an eye on the enrollment period because it’s short (only September 1st to February 28th).
Most Unique Tool: The Texas ABLE Program focuses on opportunities for students with disabilities to not only find financial aid for college, but to help them maintain “health, independence, and quality of life.”
Best Middle-School Student Tool: Under Texas Match the Promise Foundation, the Scholarships section provides a simple explanation of scholarship types and how to apply—this helps students get focused on making good grades, which can never be started early enough.
Best High-School Student Tool: The link to the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation provides a powerful college search tool that students can use right away to quickly gather info on Texas schools—including location, cost, and admission requirements.
Protip: The top of the page features a slide show of just a few of the site’s key programs, making it a quick and easy way to begin exploring—and you can pause the slides to take control over how fast you’d like to navigate through them.