Academic Planning Basics for Counselors: What You Need to Know about Endorsements, Graduation Plans, College Credits and More

Posted by Thema Reed, Texas OnCourse on Jun 3, 2021 5:10:53 PM

One of the biggest hurdles middle school students face before entering ninth grade is planning their courses for high school. Once a student enters high school, they have the opportunity to revisit their course plans, explore work-based learning options, and take courses for college credit.

To graduate high school, Texas students are required to complete 22 credits as part of the Foundation High School Program. Students can customize their high school experience by completing additional requirements and graduating with an endorsement, the Distinguished Level of Achievement, and performance acknowledgments. It’s really important that students understand their options based on their future goals. For example, the Distinguished Level of Achievement is mandatory for students to be eligible for Texas’ Top Ten Percent program.

Texas students face a competitive and ever-evolving job market. Understanding their course options and putting together a strong graduation plan helps ensure that students will graduate from high school with the resources and knowledge they need to succeed in college or their chosen career. 

This article outlines the basics of academic planning for educators. For more in-depth information, including resources, handouts, and tips for implementing this information in the classroom, check out the Academic Planning badge in the Texas OnCourse Academy.

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Topics: Finances, Educators, High School, Financial Aid

Six Things to Avoid When Applying for Scholarships

Posted by Texas OnCourse on Mar 9, 2021 12:57:09 PM

High school students have so much on their plate. If they’re pursuing some form of higher education, their last years of high school are likely to be filled with exams, applications, essays and one big question: How am I going to pay for this?

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Topics: Finances, High School, Financial Aid, Scholarships

Financial Aid Basics for Counselors: What You Need to Know about the FAFSA, TASFA, and More

Posted by Thema Reed, Texas OnCourse on Oct 20, 2020 11:42:31 AM

Thinking about paying for college can seem like a daunting task for high school students and their families. After all, the average college cost has increased more than 25% in the last 10 years. Luckily, students have more financial aid opportunities now than ever before.

It’s important for high school counselors to understand the impacts of rising student debt. They should also note the different avenues available to pay for college and reduce student loans. Applications like the FAFSA, TASFA, and CSS Profile can seem overwhelming, but the benefit for eligible students can be huge.

In this guide, we'll include links to additional articles, webinars, videos, and other resources. And don’t forget to refer to the ultimate source for all postsecondary planning information for professionals: the Texas OnCourse Academy.

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Topics: Finances, Educators, High School, Financial Aid

How to Adjust Your FAFSA Strategy due to COVID-19

Posted by Leader Fellow Alum Holly Moore on Oct 13, 2020 4:06:47 PM

When we heard that Texas OnCourse leader fellow alum Holly Moore increased her campus’ FAFSA completion by a whopping 21% in 2017–2018, we had to learn more! We interviewed her about her process and what she did differently than the year before. Holly is now a college counselor at Uplift Grand Preparatory but made this incredible progress while she was at Grand Prairie ISD in 2017. There were approximately 2,400 students at her school, and she worked with approximately 720 seniors each year.

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Topics: Finances, Educators, Coronavirus, Financial Aid

COVID-19 Update: Financial Aid Tips during COVID-19

Posted by Rose Frezza, Texas OnCourse on Sep 14, 2020 11:02:34 PM

Financial aid season is quickly approaching. We want to make sure you’re teed up to help your students afford college. This week, we’ll walk you through some new and existing information and resources and review trusted financial aid tips during COVID-19.

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Topics: Finances, Educators, Coronavirus, Distance Counseling and Learning

Submitting a Financial Aid Appeal during COVID-19

Posted by Rose Frezza, Texas OnCourse on May 19, 2020 3:39:03 PM

Many of your students have likely experienced changes to their personal and family income. These changes can affect expected family contribution, so your students may need help submitting a financial aid appeal during COVID-19. 

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Topics: Applying to College, Finances, Coronavirus, Distance Counseling and Learning

Micro Scholarships: The Hidden Scholarships for High School Students

Posted by Rose Frezza, Texas OnCourse on Mar 12, 2020 5:23:19 PM

Too often, we view scholarships as something that students start thinking about in the later years of high school – when college applications are imminent. But here are ways to begin earning scholarships for college as early as ninth grade. Through micro-scholarships!

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Topics: Finances, College Planning, Educators

In Which Order Should Students Accept Financial Aid?

Posted by Communications Coordinator Rose Frezza on Jan 7, 2020 1:36:06 PM

Scholarships and grants, federal student loans, state and college loans, private loans, work-study – these are the many ways your students can receive assistance in paying for college. Researching and pursuing these opportunities can be complicated, but there’s more to do once applications are in! Students need to learn that borrowing only what they need is crucial to minimizing debt, and that certain forms of financial aid will need to be re-paid or traded for time.

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Topics: Finances, Educators

How to Interpret the FAFSA Student Aid Report

Posted by Leader Fellow Will Collins on Nov 12, 2019 11:22:56 AM

After counseling sessions, financial aid nights, mountains of paperwork, and countless follow-ups, your students have *successfully* filed their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Way to go, counselor! What now?

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Topics: Applying to College, Finances, Educators

How to Secure Financial Aid for Undocumented Students

Posted by Leader Fellow Crystal Castañeda on Oct 29, 2019 3:22:51 PM

I have worked with many undocumented students over the years. It’s heartbreaking to see how defeated, unsure, and scared they can be about their path to college readiness. It is our job to educate and uplift all students – and let them know that college is an option. 

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Topics: Applying to College, Finances, Educators