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    Top Affordable Colleges in Texas

    By Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman

    Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

    Full Bio

    Learn about our editorial policies

    Posted: June 3rd, 2024
    Top Affordable Colleges in Texas

    Looking for affordable schools in Texas? You’re in luck. Texas has many affordable college options for students, including in-state tuition at public schools, private schools with strong merit aid, and great options for starting at community colleges and transferring to 4-year schools.

    Our list includes options for in-state and out-of-state students, as well as students with varying economic or academic situations.

    It’s important to note that the affordability of a school will vary on a student-by-student basis. Your financial and academic situation will determine how much financial aid you receive. Each school calculates this differently, so it’s a good idea to apply to many schools and to find options that favor your academic and financial background.

    Best need-based aid

    Rice University

    Rice University is one of the most competitive schools in the state, but if you manage to gain admission, they have a very generous need-based financial aid program. Their Rice Investment Program awards an automatic full ride scholarship to any student whose family makes 75K or less annually. They continue to offer very generous awards for income brackets above 75K.

    Best merit aid

    Texas Wesleyan

    Texas Wesleyan has one of the strongest aid programs in the state. Over 90% of their students receive aid, and students with a high school GPA of 3.0 or above automatically qualify for scholarships ranging from $17,000-$23,000 annually. This is in addition to other merit-based scholarships that come through departments and other more specific selection processes. You can also apply for more external scholarships through our list of Texas scholarships.

    Southern Methodist University

    Southern Methodist offers a wide range of merit scholarships to incoming freshmen, including an annual $5,000 for any student who was named a National Merit Scholar. They also have scholarships for students who went to IB schools and students who are transferring in.


    Trinity has a very strong financial aid program; in fact, 60% of graduating students in 2024 had no debt. They have a comprehensive list of merit scholarships listed on their website – check it out to see if you may qualify.

    Best for in-state students

    Public school ends up being the most affordable option for many in-state students due to the in-state tuition discount. Texas has great community college options as well as an amazing public university system. We’ll get into both here.


    Did you know that UT-Austin automatically admits all Texas students who finish high school in the top 6% of their class?

    For many students, this is an automatic ticket to in-state tuition at one of the country’s most renowned public universities. With in-state tuition costing roughly ¼ of regular tuition, this is a hugely affordable option for many Texas students.

    Other Public Texas Colleges

    UT-Austin isn’t the only affordable public option in the state. Texas A&M and the University of Texas at Dallas are both great options with in-state discounts and strong merit and need-based aid. If you are an in-state student looking for affordable tuition, all three of these options could be worth applying to.

    Texas Community College

    If you are looking to save as much money as you can, community college can often be your best bet. It comes at a fraction of the price of most 4-year schools, and with flexible schedules and the option of commuting and maintaining a full-time job, it can be worked into many kinds of schedules. 

    Check out the Texas Association of Community Colleges for an extensive list of options. And remember, many students do two years at a community college, then transfer to a four-year school to complete their degree.

    Frequently asked questions about affordable college in Texas

    How can I establish residency in Texas?

    Schools and states can have their own requirements for what residency entails. Oftentimes, it means holding an address in the state for at least one year. For a thorough guide to the process and requirements, check out our article on how to get in-state tuition as an out-of-state student

    What if my FAFSA does not show financial need?

    If you do not have the means to pay for college but your FAFSA does not show this financial need, you have a couple options. If you are an in-state student, you can try applying to public colleges like UT-Austin. These schools automatically discount tuition heavily for in-state students, regardless of financial need.

    Additionally, if you have a strong academic background, you can try applying to private schools with strong merit-based aid. Oftentimes, you’ll get the best merit aid at schools that are not overly selective, but have strong merit scholarships.
    Another option is to apply to competitive schools and, after gaining admission, send them a financial aid appeal letter to explain why your financial situation is not captured by your FAFSA and/or CSS Profile. They may adjust your aid offer and grant you admission.

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