As you're discussing your options with college representatives, these are important questions to ask:
- Which forms are required to be considered for all forms of aid?
- What are your requirements for merit aid? For need-based aid?
- Will my financial aid be the same next year? How do I keep it? How do I renew it?
- What are the financial aid application deadlines?
- Are there state aid programs I should know about?
- When will you notify me of my aid eligibility?
- How will outside scholarships affect my financial aid package?
- Are there special requirements, such as grades or course sequences, for keeping my grants and scholarships?
- Are there other conditions that I must meet, like stipulations on where I must live or work after graduation?
- Do you have a payment plan for paying tuition monthly?
Steps in the Financial Aid Process
Every college has different requirements and deadlines for financial aid forms. Check with each college’s financial aid office or website to determine which forms you need to file to be considered for all types of financial aid. Here are the most common ones:
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) — Everyone applying for federal aid and most other financial aid must complete this free form, as early as possible. You and a parent (if you are their dependent) will each need to create an FSA ID to file the FAFSA.
Get more information and file online at studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid.
- NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) Application — If you’re an eligible New York resident attending a college in the state, use this free form with the FAFSA to apply for a NYS TAP grant and NYS scholarship awards. You can link directly to the TAP application from the FAFSA submission confirmation page.
For more information, contact the NYS Higher Education Services Corporation at hesc.ny.gov/contact-hesc.
- CSS Profle™ — Some colleges may ask you to file the CSS Profle™ form to be considered for college-funded aid (the college’s own grants and scholarships).
Visit cssprofile.collegeboard.org to file. There is a fee for filing this form, but fee waivers are available for eligible students.
- College-specific financial aid applications — Some colleges may ask you to complete their financial aid applications to be considered for their college-funded grants, scholarships, and loans. Check with each college for application requirements and deadlines.
Tip: Get your FSA ID ahead of time to minimize delays. Go to studentaid.gov/help/create-fsa-id/
Complete and file the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1. For those applying to begin college in 2023–2024, use 2021 tax information. NYS residents applying to colleges in the state should include a NYS college on their FAFSA to begin the application for a NYS TAP grant.
By filing the FAFSA, you will be considered for:
- Grants and scholarships from private colleges and universities (Note: Some colleges require additional forms)
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
- Federal Work-Study (FWS)
- Job programs from private colleges and universities
- Federal Direct Student Loan
- Federal TEACH Grant (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education)
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
Visit studentaid.gov for more information. Note: You must submit a FAFSA form every year to renew your financial aid.
After submitting the FAFSA online, you’ll receive a link to your Federal Student Aid Report (SAR) via email. Review your SAR carefully and follow directions to correct your FAFSA data, if necessary.
Each college that accepts you for admission will send a financial aid offer. Each college’s aid package may include a different combination of grants, scholarships, work-study, and loans to help you meet college expenses. Compare each college’s financial aid offer by determining the college’s “net cost” — just subtract the amount of all grants, scholarships, and student loan funding from the published tuition, fees, room, and board. If you have questions or concerns, talk to the admissions or financial aid representative at the college. They are available to help you navigate this process.
The financial aid packages and aid amounts you receive will vary from college to college since each college will put together a package just for you, based on your family’s circumstances and the college’s cost of attendance.
Carefully consider the offers of admission and financial aid you’ve received. Be sure to respond to the college’s offer of admission and financial aid by the deadline indicated. The deadline at colleges with traditional admission deadlines is May 1. For colleges with rolling admission, apply as early as possible since spots may fill up quickly.
When reviewing the financial aid offer from the college, be certain to pay attention to:
- Completing your federal loan application: The college will send instructions about the loan application process, which includes the completion of a form called the master promissory note (MPN) and an entrance counseling session. It is important to keep track of how much you are borrowing and the loan repayment terms and conditions.
- Completing your NYS TAP application: If you’re an eligible New York resident attending college in the state, follow up on the NYS TAP grant and other state-specific aid programs.
Always keep in mind that financial aid isn’t a one-time endeavor— there are conditions for keeping it, like required grades and coursework. Make sure to renew your financial aid each year, on time, to avoid losing it.
Sources of Financial Aid
Grants and scholarships are funds you do not have to repay. They are available from colleges, your state, the federal government, professional and service organizations, private foundations, and many employers. Some grants are based on your financial need, while others are awarded for academic merit, a specific career goal, a special talent, or group affiliation.
Grants and Scholarships from NYS Private Colleges and Universities: More than $6.4 billion is awarded each year. Check with each college’s financial aid office to determine which forms you need to complete to be considered for all types of need-based and merit-based aid. Don’t write off a college based on the public tuition price, because it’s probably not what you’ll pay. 89% of full-time undergraduates at private colleges receive at least one type of financial aid (IPEDS 2020-21, from p4 of the booklet)
Private Grants and Scholarships: Many community organizations, businesses, corporations, unions, and churches offer funding to students based on need or merit. Check with your school counselor, public library, employer, chamber of commerce, union, church, community, and special interest organizations to see if there are any awards you may want to apply for.
Visit https://studentaid.gov for general information, or take a look at the specific funding sources below.
Federal Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant [https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/grants/iraq-afghanistan-service]: Up to the maximum Pell Grant for eligible children of service members who died during service in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11. To apply, file the FAFSA.
Federal Pell Grants [https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/grants/pell]: A grant based on financial need with awards ranging up to $7,395 in 2023–24. To apply, file the FAFSA.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) [https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/grants/fseog]: Awards from $100 to $4,000 per year are based on need. To apply, file the FAFSA.
Federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant [https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/grants/teach]: Available at participating colleges, TEACH grants award up to $4,000 per year to students who are completing or plan to complete coursework to become teachers in high-need fields in low-income areas. There is a required service component. To apply, file the FAFSA.
New York has one of the largest state-sponsored grant programs in the nation and is consistently ranked in the top five states that supply the greatest amount of student aid. Our opportunity programs are also unique to New York and offer additional supports for students in need.
Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) grants [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/apply-for-financial-aid/nys-tap.html]: Eligible students attending an NYS college full time may receive from $500 to $5,665. To apply, file the FAFSA and link to the TAP application from the FAFSA confirmation page.
Enhanced Tuition Awards [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/financial-aid/types-of-financial-aid/nys-grants-scholarships-awards/enhanced-tuition-awards.html]: Provides eligible New York State students who attend participating private, not-for-profit colleges up to $3,000 per year from New York State and a comparable amount from the college. Applications open during a limited time each year. Other requirements apply. Go to hesc.ny.gov for more information.
Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) [http://www.nysed.gov/postsecondary-services/higher-education-opportunity-program-heop]: Provides academic support and financial assistance to students at participating colleges who might not meet all the traditional college admissions criteria but who show promise of succeeding in college.
Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) [http://www.nysed.gov/postsecondary-services/collegiate-science-and-technology-entry-program-cstep]: Provides academic enrichment and research experience in STEM content areas (science, technology, engineering, math, health-related careers, and the licensed professions) to eligible students who attend participating colleges.
Part-Time TAP [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/apply-for-financial-aid/nys-tap/part-time-tap.html]: Awards for eligible undergraduate students attending college part time.
ADA Part-Time TAP [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/partner-access/financial-aid-professionals/tap-and-scholarship-resources/tap-coach/12-ada-part-time-tap.html]: Students with a documentable disability may be eligible for ADA Part-Time Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), which allows students additional time to complete their college program while receiving TAP.
Aid for Part-Time Study (APTS) [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/financial-aid/types-of-financial-aid/nys-grants-scholarships-awards/aid-for-part-time-study.html]: May award up to $2,000 for eligible part-time students at participating institutions.
Sen. José Peralta NYS DREAM Act [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/dream/]: Undocumented students (including students with DACA status), students who hold certain types of visas, and others may be eligible for New York State administered grants and scholarships. For more information and eligibility details, go to hesc.ny.gov/dream.
Named New York Scholarships
Memorial Scholarship for Families of Deceased Firefighters, Volunteer Firefighters, Police Officers, Peace Officers, and Emergency Medical Service Workers [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/repay-your-loans/managing-your-loans/ffel-student-loan-repayment-faqs/19-pay-for-college/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=116&Itemid=268]
Military Enhanced Recognition Incentive and Tribute (MERIT) Scholarship, also known as Military Service Recognition Scholarship (MSRS) [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/financial-aid/types-of-financial-aid/nys-grants-scholarships-awards/msrs-scholarship.html]
NYS Child Welfare Worker Incentive Scholarship Program [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/financial-aid/types-of-financial-aid/nys-grants-scholarships-awards/nys-child-welfare-worker-incentive-scholarship-program.html]
NYS Senator Patricia K. McGee Nursing Faculty Scholarship [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/financial-aid/types-of-financial-aid/nys-grants-scholarships-awards/senator-patricia-k-mcgee-nursing-faculty-scholarship-program.html]
NYS Math and Science Teaching Incentive Scholarship [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/financial-aid/types-of-financial-aid/nys-grants-scholarships-awards/nys-math-and-science-teaching-incentive-scholarships.html]
NYS Recruitment Incentive and Retention Program (RIRP) [https://dmna.ny.gov/education/?id=rirp]
NYS Regents Award for Children of Deceased and Disabled Veterans [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/financial-aid/types-of-financial-aid/nys-grants-scholarships-awards/nys-regents-awards-for-children-of-deceased-and-disabled-veterans.html]
NYS Scholarship for Academic Excellence [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/financial-aid/types-of-financial-aid/nys-grants-scholarships-awards/nys-scholarships-for-academic-excellence.html]
NYS Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Incentive Program [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/financial-aid/types-of-financial-aid/nys-grants-scholarships-awards/nys-science-technology-engineering-and-mathematics-stem-incentive-program.html]
World Trade Center Memorial Scholarship [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/financial-aid/types-of-financial-aid/nys-grants-scholarships-awards/nys-world-trade-center-memorial-scholarship.html]
Work-study programs give you the opportunity to earn money while you’re in college by working part time on campus or in the community. Opportunities will vary depending on which school you are attending.
Federal Work-Study Program (FWS) [https://www2.ed.gov/programs/fws/index.html]: Provides jobs to undergraduate and graduate students with financial need. Students usually work 10 to 15 hours per week during the academic year. To apply, file the FAFSA.
Job programs from private colleges and universities: Check with the college’s financial aid office for on-campus job availability. Community service jobs are also available for work-study students.
Education loans for college costs may be available for you and/or your parents. This aid must be repaid, usually with interest. Some loans are based on financial need. Federal education loans often provide the lowest interest rates. Certain high-need fields or types of work, like teachers or public servants, may be eligible for loan forgiveness programs sponsored by the federal government or New York state.
Federal Loan Programs
Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans [https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/loans/subsidized-unsubsidized]
Federal Direct Parent PLUS loans [https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/loans/plus/parent]
Federal Direct Graduate/Professional PLUS loans [https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/loans/plus/grad]
Loan Forgiveness Programs
New York State programs
Child Welfare Worker Loan Forgiveness Program [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/repay-your-loans/repayment-options-assistance/loan-forgiveness-cancellation-and-discharge/nys-child-welfare-worker-loan-forgiveness-program.html]
District Attorneys and Indigent Legal Services Attorneys Loan Forgiveness Program [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/repay-your-loans/repayment-options-assistance/loan-forgiveness-cancellation-and-discharge/district-attorney-and-indigent-legal-services-attorney-loan-forgiveness-program.html]
Get On Your Feet Loan Forgiveness Program [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/repay-your-loans/repayment-options-assistance/loan-forgiveness-cancellation-and-discharge/nys-get-on-your-feet-loan-forgiveness-program.html]
Licensed Social Workers Loan Forgiveness Program [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/repay-your-loans/repayment-options-assistance/loan-forgiveness-cancellation-and-discharge/nys-licensed-social-worker-loan-forgiveness-program.html]
Nursing Faculty Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/repay-your-loans/repayment-options-assistance/loan-forgiveness-cancellation-and-discharge/nursing-faculty-loan-forgiveness-incentive-program.html]
Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/financial-aid/types-of-financial-aid/nys-grants-scholarships-awards/new-york-state-young-farmers-loan-forgiveness-incentive-program.html]
Perkins Loan Cancellation Programs [https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/perkins] for certain types of public service, volunteer service, and certain occupations
Public Service Employees Loan Forgiveness [https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service]
Teacher Loan Forgiveness [https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/teacher]
Federal Loan Consolidation [https://studentaid.gov/app/launchConsolidation.action]
Federal Loan Repayment Plans [https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/repayment/plans]
Health Professions Faculty Loan Repayment Program [https://bhw.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/bureau-health-workforce/funding/flrp-fact-sheet-apr.pdf]
National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program [https://nhsc.hrsa.gov/loan-repayment/nhsc-loan-repayment-program]
Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program [https://bhw.hrsa.gov/funding/apply-loan-repayment/nurse-corps]
Student Loan Benefits and Repayment Options for Members of the Armed Forces [https://studentaid.gov/sites/default/files/military-student-loan-benefits.pdf]
Federal Health Professions Student Loan [https://bhw.hrsa.gov/funding/schools-apply-loan-program]
Federal Student Loan Interest Deduction [https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc456]
Federal Tax Benefits for Higher Education [https://www.usa.gov/tax-benefits]
Interest-Free Monthly Tuition Payment Plans
New York’s 529 College Savings Program [https://www.nysaves.org/home.html?gclid=CjwKCAjwoIqhBhAGEiwArXT7KyhmRPjJkjeHos6qO4Nl1kFu2it-y1OQcsX1PVThGf16Vgi4R94yhBoCA9kQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds]
NYS College Tuition Tax Credit and Deductions [https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/tax-credits-deductions/nys-college-tuition-tax-credit-deduction.html]
NYS Foster Youth College Success Initiative [http://www.nysed.gov/postsecondary-services/foster-youth-college-success-initiative]
Segal AmeriCorps Education Award [https://americorps.gov/members-volunteers/segal-americorps-education-award]
Veterans Education Benefits [https://www.va.gov/education/]