Students will no longer have to mail state financial aid applications once the application goes online, starting in fall 2021.
The Texas Application for State Financial Aid is currently submitted through a mailed paper form to a specific university, even if a student is applying to multiple universities. House Bill 2140, which was passed during the 2019 legislative session, mandates the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to create a website for the TASFA application.
At their quarterly meeting last Thursday, the board appointed a committee composed of representatives from universities and nonprofit organizations to create the website.
Jerel Booker, the board’s assistant commissioner for college readiness and success, will direct the committee and present the website to the board. He said the application will have the same questions as it does now, but it will make sharing data between institutions and the state much easier. It will mainly serve as an online database of institutions that accept state financial aid. Booker said he hopes this will encourage both students and institutions to use the state’s aid.
“It is going to be easier to track data and encourage the usage of aid,” Booker said. “(Students) will be able to fill it out and submit one application to multiple institutions. It will give them more bites of the apple to go to the institution of their choice.”
State financial aid accounts for 9% of financial aid in Texas, and the rest comes from institutional and federal sources, according to the board’s 2018 financial aid report. TASFA is recommended for students who are not eligible to apply for federal aid, such as those who are not United States citizens but have Texas residency.
Texas Rep. Victoria Neave submitted House Bill 2140 in the last legislative session. As a first-generation student herself, she remembers how difficult it was for her to navigate financial aid. Neave said she sponsored the bill to make the process easier for noncitizen and first-generation students, especially Dreamers, to access higher education.
“This was an idea that came from a ‘Dreamer’ on our staff who told us how difficult it was for them to apply,” Neave said. “We want everyone to have access to higher education. There is money out there that is for them, and this is removing a barrier for students.”
Aerospace engineering junior Kalman Mahlich’s parents have been working in Texas for several years since they moved from France. This qualifies him as a Texas resident. He has been applying to TASFA since his sophomore year but has not yet received aid from the state because of his parent’s income threshold.
Despite his higher income level, Mahlich said affording college is more difficult for him than his peers.
“I can’t apply to a lot of scholarships and aid because of where I am from,” Mahlich said. “Unfortunately, I am being excluded from a lot of these opportunities, which makes the situation harder.”