General Questions

What is student financial aid?

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.

How do I apply for financial aid?

You can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) electronically from your computer or by paper. The FAFSA is the application form required for all federal and state aid.

The FAFSA form can be found on the Web at www.fafsa.gov.    

You can also call 1-800-433-3243 for help with filling out your fafsa or to obtain a paper application. Paper applications are also available in Spanish.

When should I apply?

You can apply for financial aid even before you've been accepted to a college. Most applicants follow this guideline:

For Fall, we recommend that you apply immediately after January 1, but not before this date. Any application that is received before January 1 for the Fall semester of the following year will not be processed and you'll have to reapply.

For Spring, we recommend that you apply before November so that your financial aid application is processed before you begin classes.

Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?

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.

I probably don't qualify for aid. Should I apply for aid anyway?

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.

Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid at a particular university?

No. You can apply for financial aid any time after January 1, prior to the academic year you plan to attend. To actually receive funds, however, you must be admitted and enrolled at the university.

who gets financial aid?

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)

How much aid can I get?

Aid from most programs is awarded based on financial need (except for unsubsidized and PLUS loans).

An Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number is used to determine need. The EFC is a measure of your family's financial strength and is calculated from the information you report on the FAFSA.

To be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, your EFC must be below a certain number, which can vary from year to year. The EFC (expected family contribution) formula must be applied to each family's financial information. 

You will need to apply to find out exactly how much you will be eligible for. 

What is a Federal Pell Grant?

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.

How do I apply for a Pell Grant and other types of need-based aid?

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.

What is a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)?

FSEOG is awarded to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need (those with the lowest Expected Family Contribution (EFC) numbers. Federal Pell Grant recipients receive priority for FSEOG awards.

Can I get PELL for remedial courses?

You may receive PELL and other forms of federal aid for up to 30 hours of non-credit remedial course work (excluding ESL courses).

Can I get PELL for repeating a course?

You need to check the grade policy of your college. Sometimes if a higher minimum grade in a major course is required, you can receive federal aid again for that course. You should remember that repeating a course may limit your ability to meet the Satisfactory Academic Performance requirements for receipt of federal student aid.

What other sources of financial aid should I check out?

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:

www.finaid.com
www.fastweb.com
www.collegeboard.com

Note: The use of any scholarship search that charges a fee is not recommended.

Where can I go for more information?

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.com -  General information on your TAP grant