What is a grant?
In the world of financial aid, grants are one of the best awards you can receive. That’s because grants are essentially gifts. You receive a set amount of money from the government, a private source or a nonprofit organization to help with your university expenses, and you don’t have to pay it back as long as you follow the grant’s guidelines. However, if you withdraw from school before a semester is complete, you may be required to refund some or all of your grant money.
Grants can only pay for courses that are in a student’s degree program. Therefore, if you decide to take electives or courses that are not geared for your particular degree program, you will need to make arrangements to pay for those courses outside of financial aid. Learn more about the Department of Education's Title IV regulation and how it impacts your degree plan on the Plan of Study webpage.
Grants are need-based, and eligibility is determined by the FAFSA application. Some grants also require a minimum grade point average (GPA).
How to apply for a grant
Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step to apply for grant assistance. Learn more about the FAFSA application requirements process and deadlines on the Applying for Aid webpage.
There are three categories of grants that you can automatically apply for when completing the FAFSA.
Federal Pell Grants
This program provides grants for low-income undergraduates and, in some cases, students pursuing a post-baccalaureate teaching certificate. Pell Grant awards are based on your expected family contribution (EFC), the cost of attendance, your enrollment status (part time or full time) and whether you’re attending school for a full academic year.
To receive a TEACH Grant, you’ll be required to sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve, complete TEACH Grant counseling and you must contact the financial aid office. To receive a cancellation on the TEACH grant you must make the following commitments:
- Teach at an elementary school, secondary school or educational service agency that serves students from low-income families.
- Teach for at least 4 complete academic years within 8 years after completing the course of study for which you received the grant.
To qualify for this undergraduate grant program, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:
- Be a Texas resident
- Be enrolled fulltime*
- Graduate from an accredited Texas high school
- Have not been convicted of a felony or crime involving a controlled substance
- Demonstrate financial need (priority is given to neediest students)
- At the end of your first year, you must be meeting SFA’s Satisfactory Academic Progress policy to qualify for renewal. For the following years, you must maintain at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA and earn at least 24 semester credit hours in an academic year to qualify for renewal.
Your eligibility for TEXAS grants ends once you’ve attempted 150 semester credit hours or the equivalent, unless you receive a hardship extension.
*Disbursement can be made at three quarter-time enrollments, but for renewal purposes, full-time enrollment is recommended.
Financial aid for transfer students
If you received a TEXAS (Towards EXcellence, Access and Success) Grant at your previous school, you might be able to renew those awards at SFA. To find out, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, ID number, type of award received and the college or university you were attending when you received it.
Texas public educational grants
The Texas Public Educational Grant program is for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need. To qualify, you’ll need to be enrolled in at least six credit hours per semester.
We set aside funding from tuition and fees to offer students this grant. If you’re a Texas resident enrolled in at least 6 credit hours per semester, you may qualify. This grant has less stringent financial need requirements than some of the other grant programs.
Our Purple Promise Guarantee Program pays the remaining balance for tuition and regular fees (for up to 15 semester credit hours) that are not covered by other grants, scholarships, exemptions, benefits or waivers.
The program is only available to first-time freshman students. Advanced placement or dual credit that counts toward the degree as well as courses taken in the summer preceeding SFA enrollment will not prevent consideration of first-time freshman. Students accepted as incoming transfer students are not eligible for the program. The Purple Promise program will only cover up to 4 years toward your undergraduate degree.
To qualify, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:
- Be a Texas resident
- Be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant Program (see grant details above)
- Be a “dependent student” as defined by FAFSA or be a qualifying orphan
- Have a combined family adjusted gross income of $30,000 or less, based on the information you enter on your FAFSA
- Complete all financial aid application requirements by June 1 before the application period, including:
- Admission to SFA as a regular degree-seeking student
- Financial aid office receipt of valid FAFSA
- Be enrolled in at least 15 semester credit hours through the 12th class day each fall and spring
- Complete at least 30 credit hours each consecutive academic year with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.2
Purple Promise does not cover tuition and fees for summer semesters.