How Do I Apply?

Financial aid eligibility is determined on an annual basis so you must apply each year. The application process may vary somewhat from college to college, so you are encouraged to contact them to find out if there are additional Financial Aid applications needed to complete their process. Most schools have their requirements on the web site.

We strongly encourage all applicants for admission who are interested in being considered for financial aid apply by the established deadline of each school they are applying to. This is often much earlier than the date they make their decision on the school they will enroll in. We strongly recommend that if at all possible the parents of all financial aid applicants should complete their federal tax returns early enough to meet college deadlines. If this is not possible it is important to use your best estimates to insure your applications are received by the established deadlines. It is important to note that the tax returns are from the year immediately prior to the start of the academic year. For example, if you are applying for aid for the 2012-13 academic year you will need to supply 2011 income information. However, since many families will not have a tax return completed by the time it is necessary to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), students/parents may want to use their 2010 federal tax return as a guide when answering 2011 income questions.

The following information is provided to assist you with the financial aid application process:

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (Click here for FAFSA application on-line). This application is used to provide an Estimated Family Contribution using family income/asset information and household size through a federal formula. The EFC determines eligibility for Federal Pell Grant, Federal loans, and Work-Study. It may also be used to determine students' eligibility for institutional grants and scholarships and private alternative loans. Deadlines vary by institution so be sure to check with those you are applying to for the required date. Students will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) once the application is complete via email if an email address is provided and we encourage students and parents to review the SAR for accuracy.

  • New York State residents who submit a FAFSA indicating attendance at a college in New York State will be prompted to complete the online TAP application by linking to it directly from your FAFSA Confirmation Page, or by going to the quick link button, Apply for TAP, on the HESC Web site. It will include pre-filled information taken from your FAFSA that will expedite the application process. If you are unable to complete the TAP application at this time you can log in to the HESC web site at a later date. You will be required to get a HESC PIN and once you have your PIN complete your TAP application. Once you have submitted your application you will be sent an email confirmation directing you to HescWeb to check the status of your award.

  • Institutional Financial Aid Application. Many private colleges and universities use the College Board CSS Profile to award their institutional grants and scholarships. Others may have a supplemental form specific to their school. Be sure to check with the colleges you are applying to for any additional required forms and the deadlines for submission.

  • Income Tax Information. Signed photocopies of the parents' and students' W-2 forms, 1099 forms and the federal income tax return with all pages and schedules, and/or an IRS Tax Transcript may be required. Some colleges only require this information if the applicant is selected for Verification. Check with those colleges you are applying to insure you provide them with the required information by their deadlines.

  • Verification Process and the Verification Worksheet. Some schools require that all applicants and their parent(s) verify information reported on the FAFSA. The Verification Worksheet helps the Financial Aid Office collect data about your household size and number in college as well as your and your family's tax filing status. Income tax information listed above is often requested as part of the verification process.

The Financial Aid Process At a Glance

  1. Complete all required financial aid application materials. Once accepted, students are sent a Financial Aid Award Letter. The Award Letter is usually accompanied by a "package" of information that explains the awards being offered and what your next steps should be should you decide to enroll. Pay close attention to the gift aid offered (grants and scholarships) that will cover the educational expenses when comparing your award letters.

  2. Accept or decline the aid offered. Colleges may require you to sign and return the Award Letter indicating which awards you wish to accept or decline and that you understand the terms and conditions of the various awards. Be certain to meet the deadlines for each college from which you are seeking financial aid.

  3. Complete the loan Master Promissory Note(s) and Entrance Counseling. If you have been offered a Direct Loan as part of your Financial Aid package, you will need to complete a Master Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling online. Be certain to meet the deadline the college you will be attending has set. If you have been offered a Federal Perkins Loan, you will need to complete a separate Master Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling online for the loan.

  4. Financial aid and your student (Bursar) account. Generally funds are credited to your student account just prior to the beginning of each semester however they may show as anticipated aid on your billing statement. Each college is a bit different and the process is usually included in the information sent with your award letter. Read this carefully so that you understand how and when your financial aid will be credited to your account.

  5. Excess funds and refunds. Once your student account is paid in full, if you have a credit balance due to excess funds you should receive a refund within14 days. Remember, if you have an outstanding balance for any educational expenses on your student account (tuition, fees, room and board) your financial aid must cover these before a refund may be issued. Each college has a unique manner in which they handle excess funds to which you may be entitled. Contact your Bursar/Student Accounts Office to ensure that you understand the process.


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The information presented on the NYSFAAA Website is provided as a service from the New York State Financial Aid Administrators Association to our constituents and represents our best efforts to assist students and their families in pursuing funding for higher education. NYSFAAA is a volunteer association of financial aid professionals representing the various institutions of higher education in New York State. We have collected information we believe to be important and reputable in finding and obtaining financial aid resources; however, we assume no liability for the use of this information. The New York State Financial Aid Administrator's Association, Inc (NYSFAAA) does not receive any money, gifts or compensation, related to educational lending activities, from any "lending institution" as defined in S620(8)a and S620(8)b of New York State Education Law. Hence, NYSFAAA does not meet the definition of "lending institution" as defined in S620(8)c of New York State Education Law. Therefore, institutions of higher education in New York and employees of those institutions are not subject to any potential conflicts of interest or legal restrictions under NYS Education Law in their interactions with NYSFAAA.*
* This statement does not constitute, and should not be construed as, legal advice.