Financial aid covers school expenses, including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. The various categories of student financial aid are grants, work-study, loans and scholarships.
You can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at www.fafsa.gov. The FAFSA is the application form required for all federal aid. The application for New York State aid can be found at www.hesc.ny.gov.
You can call 1-800-433-3243 for help with filling out your fafsa or to obtain a paper application.
You can apply for financial aid even before you’ve been accepted to a college.
Students will be able to file a FAFSA as early as October 1, prior to the Fall semester they will be attending.
Yes. You must apply for financial aid every year. If your financial circumstances change, you may get more or less aid. Note, that your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly, especially if you have a different number of family members in college. Your financial aid package also depends on making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achieving a minimum GPA.
Yes. Many families mistakenly think they don’t qualify for aid and prevent themselves from receiving financial aid by failing to apply for it. In addition, there are a few sources of aid such as unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS loans that are available regardless of need. The FAFSA form is free. There is no good excuse for not applying.
No. You can apply for financial aid any time after October 1, prior to the academic year you plan to attend. To actually receive funds, however, you must be admitted and enrolled at the university.
The financial aid administrator at your college can help determine what you’re eligible for. There are, however some basic guidelines for all applicants. They must:
- Demonstrate financial need; this means that your cost of education is greater than your family contribution
- Be working toward a degree or certificate
- Be enrolled in an eligible program
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, be a New York state resident for NY state aid (TAP)
- Have a valid Social Security number
- Be registered with the Selective Service (if required)
- Maintain academic progress once in college
- Have a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate
- Not be convicted of selling or possessing illegal drugs while receiving aid
- Not be in default of federal student loans or state student loans for NY state financial aid (TAP)
Pell Grants are the foundation of federal student aid, to which aid from other federal and nonfederal sources might be added. Pell Grants are for undergraduate students.
You should file a FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov and indicate your interest in federal work-study by checking the appropriate box on the FAFSA. Checking the box does not commit you to accepting work-study. You will have the opportunity to accept or decline it later. Leaving the box unchecked will not increase the amount of grants you receive.
If you or your parents are employed ask your company or labor union if it has a tuition reimbursement program.
Check to see if the church or community organization you or your parents belong to has an educational grant or scholarship program.
If you are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or the child of a veteran, you may be eligible for veterans’ educational benefits. Learn about your eligibility for these benefits at the Veterans Administration GI bill website.
Vocational and Educational Services for individuals with Disabilities (VESID) is a NYS government office that provides a variety of educationally related services and some financial assistance for eligible students.
If you are a recipient of public assistance, you may qualify for Training Related Expense (TRE) payments through the Office of Employment Services (OES) of the Human Resources Administration.
The New York State Department of Education, in conjunction with the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), makes a number of academic merit and service awards each year. For more information about more than a dozen NYS sponsored academic award programs, please visit HESC’s Grants, Scholarships and Special Awards page.
For those who wish to conduct your own scholarship searches, you may want to try the following free scholarship searches:
Note: The use of any scholarship search that charges a fee is not recommended.
There are several available resources to help you. For information on available scholarships, visit www.cuny.edu/scholarships , or the Financial Aid office at the CUNY college you plan to attend.
To find out more information on federal student aid and for help in completing the FAFSA, visit www.studentaid.ed.gov.
For general information about federal student financial assistance programs or help in completing the FAFSA, or to obtain federal student aid publications, call 1-800-433-3243.
Additional Resources Include:
- www.studentloans.gov – for information on student loans
- www.hesc.ny.gov – General information on your TAP grant
You can call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) with questions about the FAFSA on the Web or paper application process. Online help for completing the FAFSA is available at www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov/completefafsa. Help text is available for every question on the FAFSA if you apply online using FAFSA on the web at www.fafsa.gov. You can also get free live help online at this web site.
For the 2019-20 year, you can apply between Jan. 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020. For the 2020-21 year, you will be able to apply between Oct. 1, 2019, and June 30, 2021. However, there are a few federal student aid programs that have limited funds, so be sure to apply as soon as you can once the FAFSA is available for the year you’ll be attending school.
What should I (the student) do if my family has special circumstances that aren’t mentioned in the application?
Talk to your financial aid administrator in your schools’ financial aid office. If your family’s circumstances have changed from the base year due to loss of employment, loss of benefits, death or divorce, your school may decide to adjust data elements used to calculate your EFC. The adjustment might increase your eligibility for student aid.
If I live with an aunt, uncle, or grandparent, should that relative’s income be reported instead of parental information?
Only if the relative is your adoptive parent. Dependent students can be considered dependent only on their parent(s) and must report only parental information on the FAFSA. You must report any cash support given by relatives, but not in-kind support (such as food and housing) from relatives.
You should not report any information for a friend or roommate unless the two of you are actually married or are considered to have a common-law marriage under state law. You must report any cash support given by the friend as untaxed income but should not report in-kind support (such as food). You would have to report as untaxed income the rent the roommate paid on your behalf.
Generally, grants and scholarships that do not exceed tuition, fees, books, and required supplies are not considered income. Student aid is considered income when it’s taxable student grant and scholarship aid such as fellowships and assistantships which are reported to the IRS in your parents or your adjusted gross income.
If I am in the National Guard or am an active duty military member, am I considered a veteran for purposes of filling out the FAFSA?
You are considered a veteran for the purpose of filling out the FAFSA if you have engaged in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard) or are a National Guard or Reserve enlistee who was called to active duty for other than state or training purposes, or were a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies and were released under a condition other than dishonorable.
If you are not on active duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard, but will be a veteran by June 30, 2010, you are considered a veteran for FAFSA purposes.
You report the parent with whom you lived the most during the 12 months preceding the date you completed the FAFSA. It does not make a difference which parent claims you as a dependent for tax purposes. If you did not live with either parent or lived equally with each parent, the parental information must be provided for the parent from whom you received the most financial support during the preceding 12 months or the parent from whom you received the most support the last time support was given.
If the parent you receive financial support from was a single parent who is now married, or the parent was divorced or widowed but has remarried, your stepparents financial information is required on the FAFSA. This does not mean your stepparent is obligated to give financial assistance to you, but his or her income and assets represent significant information about the family’s resources.
I am entering financial information for my mother and stepfather on the FAFSA. Should I give my father’s Social Security Number (SSN) and last name, or my stepfather’s?
You should provide the SSN and last name of the same person or people for whom you are reporting financial information. In this case, provide the SSNs and names of your mother and stepfather.
What should you do if the parent with whom you live is remarried and the stepparent refuses to supply information?
If you are a dependent student and your parent is remarried, the stepparent’s information must be included or you will not be considered for federal student financial aid. If you believe that your situation is unique or unusual other than the stepparent’s simple refusal to provide the requested information, you should discuss the matter further with your financial aid administrator.
Anyone in the immediate family who receives more than 50% support from a dependent student’s parents or an independent student and spouse may be counted in the household size. For example, a sibling who is over 24 but still receives the majority of his/her support from the parents can be included. Siblings who are dependent (as defined by the FAFSA) as of the date you apply for aid are also included, regardless of whether they receive more than 50% of their support from the parents. Any other person who resides in the household and receives more than 50% support from the parents may also be counted, as long as they will continue to reside with your parents and the support is expected to continue through June 30 2016. An unborn child who will be born during the award year may also be counted in the household size.
Household size and tax exemptions are not necessarily the same. Exemptions look at the previous year or tax year and household size refers to the school year for which the student is applying for aid.
My parents separated four months ago. I live with my mother. My parents filed a joint tax return and claimed me as an exemption. Do I report both their incomes, or just my mother’s?
Report only your mother’s income and asset information because you lived with her the most during the past 12 months. Use a W-2 Form or other record(s) to determine her share of the income reported and taxes paid on the tax return.
You should give only your portion of the exemptions, income, and taxes paid.
Any person (other than your parents) who is counted in the household and will be attending any term of the academic year at least half time. The person must be working toward a degree or certificate leading to a recognized education credential at a postsecondary school eligible to participate in the federal student aid programs. You (the student) need not be enrolled half time to be counted in the number in college.
Your school must have your information by your last day of enrollment. If your school has not received your application information electronically, you must submit your paper SAR to the school by the deadline. Either the electronic record (ISIR) or the paper SAR that has been processed by the Department must have an official EFC. Once the school receives your information, it will use your EFC to determine the amount of your federal grant, loan, or work-study award, if you are eligible. The FAA will send you a letter explaining the aid the school is offering.
If you do not receive your SAR Acknowledgement within two weeks or SAR within four weeks after submitting your application, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). You can use the automated system to find out whether your application has been processed or to request duplicate copies of your report. You will need to provide your Social Security Number and the first two letters of your last name. You can also check the status of your FAFSA and print a copy of your SAR at www.fafsa.gov.
If you apply on FAFSA on the Web, you will get a confirmation notice after you click on Submit My FAFSA.
Your FAFSA will be processed in two to four days. If you do get an email within a week you can check the status by going to www.fafsa.gov. You can also check by contacting the Federal student aid Information center at 1-800-4-FED-AID.
- Social Security numbers of student and parents’ (parents Social Security numbers are needed for dependent students)
- W-2 forms and other records of money earned by student and parents, if you are a dependent student
- Students and parents’ federal income tax returns (parents tax return is needed for dependent students and spouses tax return is needed for independent students)
- Untaxed income records – Social security, welfare, or veteran benefits for example
- Current bank statements
- Current business and investment mortgage information, business and farm records, stock, bond and other investment records
- Alien registration card, if you’re not a U.S. citizen
You must re-apply for financial aid every academic year. When filling out a FAFSA again the application will be partially completed for you using information that has been carried over from last year’s application.
You can list up to ten schools on your FAFSA. Those schools will receive you FAFSA results electronically.
Review it carefully to make sure it’s correct and complete. If it is and if it contains your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) contact the school(s) you’re interested in. The schools listed on your FAFSA will appear on your SAR, they’ll receive your SAR information electronically.
If you need to make corrections to the SAR, you can make them online at www.fafsa.gov. You can made a few changes to your SAR information by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).
Contact the financial aid office of the school(s) you’re interested in or plan to attend. If you’re eligible for aid, each school will send you an award letter, telling you the types of aid it will offer and how much you can receive.
The federal government uses a process called verification to help determine the correctness of the financial information on your FAFSA. If your application needs to be verified, there will be an asterisk (*) to the right of the EFC and written comments on the SAR indicating what actions you need to take to complete the verification process. Your electronic record will also indicate that verification must be completed before any federal student aid payments are made.
If your application is selected for verification, or if there are any other questions about your application, the financial aid office will send you a letter asking you to provide documentation of your SAR information and complete a Verification Worksheet. You will have to submit Tax Transcript(s) and other requested items before you receive any payments of federal student aid.
An FSA ID is a username and password that you must use to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education (ED) websites. Your FSA ID identifies you as someone who has the right to access your own personal information on ED websites such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid ( FAFSA®) at fafsa.gov.
If you are a parent of a dependent student, you will need your own FSA ID if you want to sign your child’s FAFSA electronically. If you have more than one child attending college, you can use the same FSA ID to sign all applications. Please note: Each FSA ID user must have a unique e-mail address.
Your FSA ID is used to sign legally binding documents electronically. It has the same legal status as a written signature.
You can create an FSA ID when logging into certain ED websites, including this one. Create an FSA ID now.
The FSA ID process consists of three main steps:
1. Enter your log-in information.
- Provide your e-mail address, a unique username, and password, and verify that you are at least 13 years old.
2. Enter your personal information.
- Provide your Social Security number, name, and date of birth.
- Include your mailing address, e-mail address, telephone number, and language preference.
- For security purposes, provide answers to five challenge questions.
3. Submit your FSA ID information.
- Agree to the terms and conditions
- Verify your e-mail address. (Note: By verifying your e-mail address, you can use your e-mail address as your username when logging into certain ED websites. This verification also allows you to retrieve your username or reset your password without answering challenge questions.)
My parents don’t support me and won’t contribute to my education, so why am I still considered a “dependent” student?
It’s a federal regulation. There are basic requirements a student must meet to be considered an independent student. If you do not meet these requirements but you still believe you are truly independent of your parents, you may appeal for a “dependency override” in the financial aid office at your school. In unusual cases, the financial aid administrator can change your dependency based on adequate documentation of special circumstances you may have.
When you have completed the FAFSA on the Web, the confirmation page will give you a link to the TAP on the Web application for New York State financial aid. Before completing the TAP application, you will be asked to establish a PIN for TAP. This PIN will allow you to complete your application later, access your application information, or make changes, if necessary.
After establishing your PIN, you will be able to complete your TAP application. The TAP on-line form will be pre-filled with some of the information from the FAFSA you completed on-line. Review this data, supply any missing information, and submit the form. Follow the instructions provided.
Yes, you must reapply for TAP every year in addition to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The amount of TAP you receive depends on your family income, the number of family members attending college full-time, the number of semesters you have received TAP, and the size of the annual appropriation for the program. Maximum TAP awards can be equal to but not greater than the full tuition charge at the college. State budgetary restrictions can further limit TAP awards to a portion of your tuition.
For an associate degree you may receive TAP for up to 6 semesters. You will be limited to 6 semesters of TAP even if you change majors or transfer to another community college. When you enroll in a 4 year college program at a senior college, you will become eligible for an additional 2 full-time semesters of TAP bringing your undergraduate total to 8 semesters. If you are enrolled in a special program you may receive up to 8 semesters in an Associate Degree program (College Discovery) and 10 semesters in a bachelor degree program (SEEK).
If you repeat a course that you previously passed, you may not count the repeated course towards full-time enrollment for TAP purposes. This means that in order to receive TAP in a semester where you may be repeating a course you passed previously that you have, in addition to the repeated course, at least 12 credits or equated credits of non-repeated courses. If you repeat a course that you previously failed, you may include that course towards full-time enrollment for TAP purposes.
Remedial courses may be counted towards either full-time or part time enrollment for TAP purposes. However, to qualify for TAP, you must always be registered for a certain number of degree credit courses.
The HESC Customer Communication Center can be reached by telephone toll-free at 1-888-NYS-HESC (1-888-697-4372). You could also reach them on the web by going to www.hesc.ny.gov.
Yes. You never know if your plans will change and having the TAP application on file will speed up the process if you decide to attend college in New York State.
It never hurts to apply and let New York State decide whether you are eligible for a TAP grant. The application is easy and you just might qualify. Many students who are not eligible for Pell Grants still qualify for TAP.
I missed the link to the TAP on the Web site when I completed my FAFSA online. Can I get to it any other way?
Yes. You must wait until you receive either an email or a postcard with the web address of TAP on the Web. You can then set up a PIN number which will allow you to access the TAP on the Web site and you can complete your TAP application and have it submitted to HESC.
Work Study Questions
The money you earn from Federal Work-Study is generally subject to federal and state income tax, but exempt from FICA taxes (provided you are enrolled full time and work less than half-time).
Federal Work-Study earnings during the calendar year should be included in the totals for AGI on the FAFSA. Work-study earnings should only be included when they represent financial aid to the student, since the answer to this question is used as an exclusion from taxed income. The student should also be careful to report amounts based on the calendar year, not the school year.
To be considered for this award, you must fill out your financial aid applications by an established filing deadline and request consideration for FWS by checking the appropriate box on the FAFSA. FWS money is awarded on a first-come, first served basis. The College receives a fixed amount of money each academic year to make FWS awards. Once this money is awarded, there is no more for that academic year. You are encouraged to file your financial aid applications early when you receive your award letter from the College, it will indicate whether or not you have been awarded FWS.
Where you work depends on the amount of your award, class schedule and job skills. To the maximum extent possible, the FWS Placement or Financial Aid Office tries to place you in a job that complements or reinforces your educational program or career goals. You may work either on-campus in one of the departments of the College or off-campus at a number of non-profit community service agencies. Also, it may be possible for you to work at selected companies in the private sector that choose to participate in the program. If you receive a small award or have a heavy class schedule, you will usually be placed on-campus..
Yes. If you receive FWS, you will come to the Financial Aid or Placement Office at the beginning of the term for placement.
You will usually be given a list of jobs available.
After selecting a job, you will arrange for an interview with the work-study employer and travel to the job site with a work-study employment contract. If you are hired, you and your work-study employer will sign the contract and you will return it to the work-study placement office. You may then begin to work.
Note: if you are not hired, you must return the unsigned contract to the work-study placement office, choose another job assignment, arrange for another interview and get a new contract for your employer to sign.
No. Your FWS award represents the maximum amount you may earn for the academic year. How much of the total award you actually receive depends upon your rate of pay, the total number of hours you work each week and the number of weeks you work in the year. Once you have earned your maximum FWS award, you will have to stop working.
You are paid by the hour, your rate of pay being determined by the job location and the nature of the work involved. You will receive at least $9.00 per hour for on-campus positions. The rate of pay can be higher for jobs off-campus but will be no lower than $9.00 per hour.
Every two weeks, your supervisor submits a time sheet for you. After your first time sheet is submitted, you may have to wait up to 4 weeks for your first check. Subsequently, you will receive a paycheck every two weeks.
No. You can be paid only for the hours you have worked. If you cannot earn your entire FWS award before the end of the academic year, the unearned portion of your award is returned to the program.
You must register for and maintain an enrollment status of half-time (6 credits or equated credits) or greater to be eligible for FWS. If, for any reason, your course load falls below half-time, you can no longer participate in the program and must stop working.
Yes. If you withdraw from school for any reason, you lose your eligibility for FWS and must stop working.
Yes. If you are receiving unemployment insurance benefits and are also employed in the FWS program, you must notify your local unemployment office that you are working in the FWS program. The New York State Department of Labor considers it willful misrepresentation to collect unemployment benefits without revealing that you are also receiving FWS.
Yes. FWS earnings are considered taxable income by both federal and state governments. However, FWS earnings are not included in the calculation of your eligibility for financial aid.
According to federal law, the identity and work eligibility of all FWS students must be verified before beginning a FWS assignment. You will have to complete an I-9 form and present certain documents to an appropriate FWS representative. You may not participate in the on-campus FWS program until you have filed an I-9 form with the Financial Aid Office. If you work off-campus, you will file your I-9 with your off-campus employer.
If you have never had a job, the FWS program can give you your first exposure to the world of work. FWS employers are often willing to give you on-the-job training. You can find positions relating directly to your program of study or career choice, thereby gaining valuable job experience. You may learn about giving something back to the community through a community service related FWS position. When seeking regular employment after graduation, you may use your FWS job as an employment reference. If you are enrolled in the Cooperative Education department, you can sometimes use your FWS job to fulfill your internship requirement. Finally, you could be taken on as a regular employee by the employer you worked for as an FWS student.
If you’re attending school at least half-time, you have a period of time after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time status before you must begin repayment. This period of time is called a “grace-period”.
Federal Perkins Loans- the grace period is nine months. If you’re attending less than half-time, check with your financial aid office to determine your grace period.
Direct Stafford Loans– the grace period is six months.
Subsidized loan– during the grace period, you don’t have to pay any principal and you won’t be charged interest.
Unsubsidized loan– you don’t have to pay any principal, but you will be charged interest. You can either pay interest as you go along or it will be capitalized later.
Not immediately. The subsidized Stafford loan has a grace period of 6 months and the Perkins loan a grace period of 9 months before the student must begin repaying the loan. When you take a leave of absence you will not have to repay your loan until the grace period is used up. If you use up the grace period, however, when you graduate you will have to begin repaying your loan immediately. It is possible to request an extension to the grace period, but this must be done before the grace period is used up.
If your grace period has run out in the middle of your leave of absence, you will have to start making payments on your student loans.
No. Parents are, however, responsible for the Federal PLUS loans. Parents will only be responsible for your educational loans if you are under 18 and they co-sign your loan. In general you and you alone are responsible for repaying your educational loans.
On the other hand, if your parents (or grandparents) want to help pay off your loan, you can have your billing statements sent to their address. Likewise, if your lender or loan servicer provides an electronic payment service, where the monthly payments are automatically deducted from a bank account, your parents can agree to have the payments deducted from their account. But your parents are under no obligation to repay your loans. If they forget to pay the bill on time or decide to cancel the electronic payment agreement, you will be held responsible for the payments, not them.
Your parents complete a Direct PLUS Loan application and promissory note that you’ll get from your school’s financial aid office. They will have to pass a credit check. If they don’t pass they might still be able to receive a loan if they can demonstrate that extenuating circumstances exits, or if someone thy know, who can pass agrees to endorse the loan and promises to repay it if your parents don’t.
Can I cancel my student loan if I change my mind, even if I’ve signed the promissory note agreeing to the loan’s terms?
Yes. Your school must notify you in writing whenever it credits your account with your loan funds. You may cancel all or a portion of your loan if you inform your school within 14 days after the date your school sent you this notice, or by the first day of the payment period, whichever is later. (Your school can tell you the first day of your payment period.)
The same way you do the other federal student aid, by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You do not need a separate loan application. But, you will need to sign a promissory note, a binding legal document that states you agree to repay your loan according to the terms of the note.