College Access Loan

The College Access Loan (CAL) is a credit-based loan program for Texas residents administered by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). 

When determining the amount of CAL you may be eligible to receive, the amount of financial aid you COULD BE eligible to receive (including scholarships and federal loan funds) will first be deducted from the estimated Cost of Attendance. This means that even if you choose not to take out a federal Unsubsidized Loan, the amount of that particular loan must be deducted from the maximum you are allowed to borrow from the CAL program.

For the 2021-22 award year the College Access Loan offers:

  • A fixed annual rate of 3.75%
  • No origination fees
  • Repayment beginning 6 months from the date a borrower ceases to be enrolled at least half-time


  • The CAL is awarded based on the requirements set by The Higher Education Coordinating Board ( and the availability of funds. 

    • Texas residency is required (for at least 1 year prior to the first day of the Fall semester)
    • Enrollment of at least half time (4.5 credit hours per semester)
    • Experian Vantage score of 650 or higher
  • The starting point for the College Access Loan (CAL) is the Texas Residency assessment, which consists of submitting two items:

    1. Texas Core Residency Questionnaire
    2. Proof of Texas residency. Students must submit ONE of the following documents (documents must have an issue date of at least 12 months prior to the first day of the semester for which you are applying):
      • Valid Texas driver's license or ID Card
      • Texas voter registration card
      • Lease or rental agreement for residential property in your name

    Please forward your completed Residency Questionnaire and proof of residency to and proceed with the following application steps. 

    STEP 1: Review the Cost and Funding Calculator and determine the amount of funding you want to borrow for the academic year (Fall + Spring).

    STEP 2: Gather your information before starting your application. You’ll need your current address and phone number, your Social Security number, driver’s license number, employment information (for yourself and/ or your cosigner), and two references (name and contact information).

    STEP 3: Apply online at

    • The Loan Period for Fall/Spring is August 23, 2021 – May 3, 2022.
    • You will need to include the estimated Cost of Attendance (COA) figure in your application. You will find that information on the Cost of Attendance tab of the Cost and Funding Calculator spreadsheet.
    • There are three separate processes to complete: Loan Application, Borrower Self-Certification form, and Master Promissory Note (MPN)

    STEP 4: Once the THECB has received all application documents and your credit is approved, Rice Business will be notified to certify loan eligibility. The Student Financial Services office will certify the loan up to the COA minus any other aid the student has been awarded (or could be eligible to receive) or for the approved loan amount. 

    • Once we have certified your CAL eligibility, the THECB will send you a Loan Approval Disclosure (LAD). You may electronically accept the terms of the disclosure on the HHLoan website. 
    • Loan funds will not be released to Rice University until the Loan Disclosure has been accepted and a mandatory cancellation period of 7-10 days (as required by law) has expired. 
  • Disbursement
    Assuming you completed all loan application steps, funding begins to disburse in 50% increments around the first week of class each semester.

    Funding is transferred from the lender directly to Rice University and is then applied toward your ESTHER Student Account.

    Interest begins to accrue on the amount disbursed from the point of disbursement.

    If you decide to borrow above the cost of tuition/fees, the credit on your account will be refunded to you by the University Cashier's Office. Refunds can only be processed once there is a credit balance on your account (funding will first be applied to all tuition/fees for the Semester). 

    We recommend that you set-up a Refund account in your ESTHER Payment Suite so that funds can be electronically transferred to your bank account. 

    Navigation: ESTHER => Student Services => Payment Suite (grey button) => Refund

    If you choose to NOT set-up a Refund account, it can take 2-3 weeks for you to receive a mailed refund check.

  • Is there a limit for how much I'm able to borrow?
    Yes. Students may borrow up to the amount of their full cost of attendance minus all other financial aid they are eligible for (including scholarships and/or the Federal Unsubsidized Loan...even if you choose not to accept the federal loan). 

    Is the FAFSA required?
    No. Although THECB does not require a FAFSA to be completed in order to receive the CAL, they do require schools to consider the amount in which the student could be eligible for federal funds (namely the Federal Unsubsidized Loan) when calculating the CAL loan amount. In other words, the amount in CAL cannot exceed the difference between the Cost of Attendance and other forms of student assistance for which the student is eligible, whether or not the student actually receives such funding. 

    Is a credit check required? 
    Yes. Before the loan is approved, THECB checks the applicant and cosigner (where applicable) credit information. Applicants with adverse scores may not be approved.

    Will I need to apply for the CAL again for my second year in school?  
    Yes. The loan is only for one academic year (Fall + Spring). A new application will need to be completed prior to your second academic year. 

    • Students who previously established Texas residency (during their first academic year) will NOT need to re-complete the Residency Questionnaire or re-submit their proof of residency. They may simply re-apply for the loan through the website. 

    Where can I get more information?
    In addition to visiting you may also contact the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board at 1-800-242-3062 for information about the status of a new loan application, accounts in repayment, or deferments.