Capital IDEA Frequent Questions

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Welcome to our FAQ page. If you don’t see an answer to your question below, please contact us.


Our most frequently asked question:


Why is this program free?

As a nonprofit with a mission to get our Central Texas neighbors into great careers, we raise money for your education. Each year we raise enough money to fund our program and cover the tuition and textbooks for over 800 adults, like you. And then we send you to college to get a degree in a high-demand career field. If you're eligible for our program, your tuition and textbooks are already paid for by the generous support of our funders. If you're serious about a career with a future, Apply Today or attend a CareerUp to learn more.

Did you know it costs about $5 million a year to make this program available in our community? The money for your education comes from donors, foundations, local employers, and government agencies, including our three largest investors: the City of Austin, Travis County, and St. David's Foundation. Central Texas is one of the few regions across the nation to have a locally funded program that can invest in the education of our neighbors. As a resident of Central Texas, you have a unique opportunity for a free education. It may sound too good to be true but here's the catch—you have to do the hard work of getting an education and show us you're dedicated to finishing your degree.
Apply Today | CareerUp


  • What if I’m not a Permanent Resident yet?
  • To qualify for Capital IDEA programs you must be able to prove you have Permanent Resident status. If you are in the process of applying for Permanent Residency, you may begin the Capital IDEA application process but we will not be able to accept you until your Permanent Resident status is confirmed.

  • What if I already have a degree? (USA or other country)
  • Capital IDEA does not sponsor adults who have already earned a college degree. In the case that you can prove your degree is not valid for employment, Capital IDEA can consider your application and, in some cases, make an exception. Contact us before applying to find out if you might qualify for an exception.
    If your degree is from a foreign country, you may have your credits reviewed to determine your credit equivalency. If the college evaluates your credits to be less than an Associate Degree, Capital IDEA may be able to help you get the remaining credits you need.
    Transcript evaluation services are available at ACC Highland Business Center located at 5930 Middle Fiskville Rd, Austin, Texas 78702, 3rd floor.
    To get a foreign degree translated to English, visit Complete this before taking your documents to ACC.
    If you have additional questions, contact us at 512-457-8610 or

  • Can I still apply if I’m a high school senior but not 18?
  • High school seniors still need to meet our qualifications. However, in their last semester of school, they can start applying and complete all steps of the process before they turn 18 years of age. Capital IDEA will not be able to accept applicants until they turn 18 years old. For more information, visit our high school page

  • What if I have student loans in default?
  • To be accepted by Capital IDEA, you must be in good standing with your student loans and in good academic standing with ACC. You will have to establish a payment plan if your loans are in default. Visit
    Addressing Your Defaulted Student Loans
    My Options for Going Back to School

  • Can two people from the same family apply?
  • Our policy is not to sponsor two people at the same time who rely on each other for their income like a spouse or domestic partner. Experience has shown us this does not work because it creates a financial hardship for the household. A good financial plan is critical to your success. If you are not financially dependent on one another like siblings or a parent/child with separate income, then yes, two or more people from the same family may apply at the same time.

  • What if I am unsure about my career choice?
  • We want you to finish your degree and move on to a rewarding career. Part of our application process includes going over your interests with a Career Guidance Specialist. This step may help determine the right career field for you, but ultimately it is up to you to make the best choice for yourself. Take the time to research your options and be ready for your commitment interview. You will be asked about your reasons for choosing your career field. Visit our Programs page to explore your career options:
    Tech & Trades
    Career Expressway

  • What if I am already attending classes at ACC?
  • Current ACC students are eligible to apply to Capital IDEA. If accepted, we will sponsor the remainder of your education. We do not retroactively pay for classes you’ve already taken. In addition, you must be in good standing at ACC.

  • Does Capital IDEA help with English/ESOL classes?
  • Capital IDEA’s Career Expressway program covers tuition for English Level 3 and 4 at Austin Community College. If you’re ready for Level 3 or above, you can start now: Apply Now 

    If you need Basic English, Level 1, or Level 2 English, complete those classes at Austin Community College and apply to Capital IDEA when you’re ready for Level 3. ESOL Academic Program at ACC 

    How do I know what level I’m at?

    Take the ESOL assessment and keep your receipt. Capital IDEA will reimburse you for the testing fee at Step 4 of the applicaiton process. ESOL Assessment Steps at ACC 


  • What if I don’t see a CareerUp in my county, can I attend a different one?
  • Capital IDEA schedules CareerUps in a county when there is funding to support more students from that county. You may attend any CareerUp that is convenient for you but understand that we will not be able to accept your application until we are recruiting from the county you reside in.

  • Do I have to attend a CareerUp to apply?
  • Yes. Capital IDEA hosts many public CareerUps throughout Central Texas and online. You can find the dates on our website and Facebook page. We also host private CareerUps when we’re invited into classrooms, businesses, housing sites, and partner organizations. If you see a posting for a Capital IDEA presentation at an organization you belong to, show up! That will also count as your CareerUp.
    If you can’t make it to any of the upcoming CareerUp dates, contact for more information on online CareerUp options.


  • How long will I be in Capital IDEA?
  • That depends on your starting point and your career choice, but on average our students complete a program in about 3.5 years. College Prep takes 1 semester, pre-requisites and co-requisites classes can take 1 to 1.5 years, and program classes can also take 1 to 1.5 years to complete.

  • How many classes will I take a semester?
  • To meet the requirement of a fulltime student, you will typically need to take 3 to 4 classes per semester.

  • What is the schedule for the College Prep Academy classes?
  • College Prep students attend class Monday through Friday for twelve weeks. Math is in the morning 8:00 am – 11:00 am. Reading is 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm. For more informaiton, visit College Prep .

  • Can I attend class at night?
  • ACC sets the class schedules and may have some evening or weekend classes, but most classes are during the day. It is unlikely you will be able to take the majority of your coursework at night.

My Application

  • Whose income do I count? / What if I don’t have any income?
  • Most applicants will provide their own income, the income of their spouse or partner, and any income or benefits their children (under 18) receive. This includes income from your job, child support, benefits or assistance programs, etc.

    Do not count income for roommates, or adult children (18 years or older) who live with you.

    If you do not have any income of your own, you will need to ask the person supporting you to fill out a Financial Support Form (PDF). This will count as your income documentation required for your application. If you don’t have a printer, you can ask for a copy when you come into the office for your application steps.

  • How do I get a new or replacement social security card?
  • You may be able to request a replacement of your social security card online — see if you qualify Social Security Administration.
    If you don’t qualify to use the online service, or you are requesting for a child, visit the same page as above (Social Security Administration), then scroll down to the section ‘How To Get A New, Replacement Or Corrected Card’.

  • How do I get a new or replacement driver's license?
  • To get your Texas driver’s license or state ID card visit You’ll see options to renew, change address, or reinstate a license.

  • Do you need to count my parent’s income (for recent high school grads living at home)?
  • No, we won’t need to consider your parent’s income. Ask your parents to fill out the Financial Support Form (PDF) and turn it in along with your application. If you don’t have a printer, you can ask for a form when you come into the office for your next application step.

  • What if I can’t find my taxes? / What if I didn’t file taxes?
  • If you’ve lost your copy of your taxes, you can get a transcript of your taxes from the IRS by calling (800)–829–1040. Transcripts will be mailed directly to you in 2-3 weeks.

    If you did not file taxes in the past year, we will have you fill out and sign a Tax Declaration Form (PDF). If you don’t have a printer, you can ask for a copy when you come into the office and fill it out there. We’ll add it to your file.

  • How do I reschedule my assessment?
  • If you are trying to reschedule because your paperwork isn’t done yet, don’t reschedule. Come in and take your assessment. We’ll review what you’ve completed so far and let you know what is missing.

    If you need to reschedule your assessment because you can’t make your appointment, use this link: Make a Change to My Sign Up.

    If you have trouble with the link above, go ahead and sign up for a new date here: Step 2, then email us to let us know you have changed your assessment date: I’ve rescheduled my assessment (email).

  • Why am I being asked for so many documents?
  • It’s true, we do ask for a LOT of documents. Believe it or not, we try to ask only for documents when absolutely necessary. But here’s why we ask for so much information: We get our funding from government agencies, big foundations, and other private donors. To show that we are using the money responsibly and only in the way we’ve said we would, we have to prove each and every applicant is a real person, who really lives in our community, and meets all of our qualifications.

    At least twice a year we go through a rigorous audit to verify we are documenting our program correctly and storing information safely. We document every aspect of our decision to accept a new student because as soon as we’ve done that, we are able to commit thousands of dollars towards their education. And we LOVE paying for our student’s college, and seeing them succeed!

  • How do I use Adobe Scan? / How do I turn my documents into PDFs?
  • We recommend Adobe Scan to our students and applicants because it is FREE, and it can turn your paper documents into PDFs using the camera on your phone. Below is a tutorial video to help you get started. Get the Adobe Scan app

    Note: There are several other apps that can create PDFS, like Dropbox for example, and you are welcome to use any app you trust to securely scan and store your personal information.

    Remember, if you ever struggle with technology (and who doesn’t), just ask us for a low-tech way to keep going. For example, if scanning documents at home isn’t working for you, bring your documents with you to your assessment (Step 2). You can use our copy machine while you’re here. We’ll show you how.

  • Do I have to take the assessment? Even if I'm already in college?
  • The short answer is: yes. Every applicant has to take an assessment. It counts as part of your application.

  • How do I get my college transcript?
  • Transcripts can be requested through the school’s registrar’s office. You can often request your transcript online. Try visiting the college’s website and search for ‘registrar’s office’ or ‘transcript request.’ Some schools require written consent before processing your request and will not offer online services. In that case, try calling or visiting the office in person.
    If your college no longer exists, you will have a more difficult time obtaining transcripts. Start with this information sheet: Guidelines for Obtaining Student Transcripts or Records from Private Institutions (pdf)

  • How do I get copies of my high school diploma or GED certificate?
  • To get a copy of your high school transcript, contact the registrar’s office at the school you graduated from. They should be able to get you a copy of your transcript. If you have difficulty getting your request filled by the school, you can try an on-line service like www.needmytranscriptcom.
    For GED certificate, visit the Texas Certificate/Transcript Search to obtain a printable PDF containing the Certificate of High School Equivalency and test scores for $5. The printable PDF will include a diploma-style certificate suitable for framing and a transcript with test dates and scores. The certificates and verifications must be printed during this transaction, so be sure to use a computer that is connected to a printer.

  • How do I get a new or replacement birth certificate?
  • If you need to replace a birth certificate for yourself or a family member who was born in Texas, you can order replacement birth certificates through the Texas Vital Records Department.

    Order online at
    Order in person at 1100 West 49th Street, Building R, Austin, TX 78756.
    Order by phone 512-776-7111.

    For individuals born outside of Texas, you will need to search for the right department in the state they were born in. For example, type “birth certificates New Mexico department of health,” into a search engine like Google or Bing. Look for websites that end in .gov to ensure you are getting the government agency and not a third party agency which will charge you more for the same service.