New York Student Grants for College
Fund Your Education with Free Grant Money
As college costs continue to rise, students and parents alike should be sure to look beyond the usual loans and part time jobs for tuition assistance.
In New York State, several grant programs are available, providing aid to needy students that does not need to be paid back to the issuer.
Grant Options in New York
Many private colleges and universities offer school specific grant programs as well, often designed to cover any deficits between tuition and the student or family's ability to pay after federal and state funding has been awarded.
Because searching for grants is no easy task, each funding source available to New York State residents or students is detailed below, along with application requirements and and restrictions that may apply.
Just because the sticker price on a college might look prohibitive, grants and other financial aid help to bring the initial cost to a level that can be affordable to all students.
Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)
TAP is New York's largest grant program. Depending on the year and amount of financial need, grants may be awarded in amounts up to $5,000 annually, and are available for all approved years of undergraduate study.
In addition, lesser awards are also available to students pursuing graduate coursework.
In order to be eligible, a student must meet several requirements. The applicant must be a United States citizen or eligible non-citizen, and be a legal resident of New York State studying at an approved post-secondary institution.
The student must be a high school graduate and enrolled in good academic standing for at least 12 credits per semester, although HESC maintains a separate grant program for part time students earning less than 12 credits.
Income must not exceed the maximum levels of $80,000 for dependent students, $40,000 for married independent students, or $10,000 for independent, unmarried students. Finally, the student must be charged at least $200 in tuition per year, and not be in default on any HESC loans or state awards.
The TAP application process begins with the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is available online and at most college financial aid offices.
After completing the FAFSA online, eligible residents attending New York State schools will be able to directly link to the TAP application to obtain a secure pin number, requirements and guidelines. Processing usually takes three to eight weeks, and the application status can easily be checked online on the HESC website.
In the meantime, the website also includes an estimated award calculator to assist with further financial aid planning. For Part Time students, the application process is the same, although students must be taking at least six credits to qualify.
Aid For Part Time Study (APTS)
In addition to Part Time TAP, students enrolled for at least 3 but less than 12 credits per semester should apply for APTS, or Aid For Part Time Study. The amount of the award may be up to $2,000 annually, depending on the student's New York State taxable income.
The application can be obtained from the college's financial aid office, and is not dependent on completion of the FAFSA, like the TAP. Awards are selected by the individual college's administrators based on need and the amount of funds available for a given year.
In order to qualify, New York State net taxable income may not exceed $50,550 for dependent students, and $34,250 for independent students, and tuition costs must exceed $100 annually. Residency requirements also apply, and the student must be a high school graduate or GED recipient enrolled in good academic standing at an approved New York State post-secondary institution.
Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)
The State University of New York's Educational Opportunity Program provides a unique opportunity for under prepared or economically disadvantaged students seeking to enroll in a state undergraduate program.
Serving over 55,000 students since the program's inception in 1967, EOP provides academic support as well as educational assistance to eligible students in the form of application fee waivers and grants that do not require repayment.
The program is limited to SUNY schools, but is available on forty three of the campuses, including four year colleges and research universities as well as two year community college programs.
EOP Income Limitations
Income limitations vary based on family size and amount of support providers, but a typical family of four with one working parent may not earn above $32,790 in the most recent academic year in order to be eligible.
Waivers to the limitations apply if the family is a recipient of certain New York State social services, or if the student is a ward of the state or in a foster care situation which provides no financial assistance.
EOP Application Requirements
EOP applicants must be New York State residents with a high school diploma or GED who are ineligible for admission under traditional standards, but who show potential for excelling in college level coursework.
Program admission is through the individual college's application. In order to be eligible, the student also must submit FAFSA and TAP applications, with possible additional requirements as determined by the individual college. SUNY Albany, for example, also requires copies of signed income tax returns and a Supplemental Information Form, which is provided by the college.
Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP)
HEOP is similar in design to the Educational Assistance Program, but is available at 69 colleges and universities throughout the state, including many private institutions such as Cornell, Columbia, and New York University. Application requirements are also similar to the EOP, with admission and aid decisions made by the individual institution.
Applicants must have been a New York State resident for at least two years prior to applying, must not exceed income limitations, and also meet academic requirements as determined by the participating college or university. Although aid varies by the individual institution, it is not insignificant.
For example, Columbia University's HEOP program provides full financial aid including tuition, room, board, and a book allowance to eligible students.
Individual College and University Grants
In addition to New York State sponsored grants, many colleges and universities offer their own independent programs to supplement financial aid packages.
For example, Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York, offers the Mercy College Assistance Grant, which is a need-based grant offered to supplement federal and state aid to full time students.
Although these grants may be school-specific, most colleges and universities in New York State offer some sort of grant assistance, so it is worth checking with the individual school's financial aid office. In addition, each school's grant application process will be different.
While some institutions may require completion of the FAFSA or TAP paperwork to be eligible, others may not. Canisius College in Buffalo, for example, offers a large internal student grant program that is dependent on completion of the FAFSA form.
Alternative Grant Sources in New York State
Grant funding is not just limited to state and college funds. Many businesses and professional organizations have their own grant programs as well.
This funding may be dependent on financial need, academic merit, or any combination of requirements. Some alternative grant sources may be focused around a particular cause.
For example, the Living Beyond Belief Butterfly Grant offers at least $1,000 each to five New York City public high school seniors who have demonstrated efforts to increase AIDS/HIV awareness through community service and extracurricular activities.
For students demonstrating financial need who have exhausted alternative resources, New York is home to several non profit organizations offering college funding based on need. For example, On Point for College, based in Syracuse, New York, offers "last dollar" grants for expenses such as textbooks, fees, and housing.
Since 1999, the organization has awarded almost 2,000 grants to New Yorkers totaling over $168,000. Grant Opportunities in New York From state community colleges to four year private universities, grants are readily available to help students and their families pay for college regardless of financial situation.
The most important steps that a prospective college student can take to secure their grant funding for the upcoming year is to fill out the FAFSA first. Although this is a federal program, it is the gateway to obtaining state grants for most programs in New York. Next, be sure to fill out all of the state forms including TAP and APTS, if pursuing part time study.
After applying for state funding, be sure to meet with a financial aid representative from the college or university to discuss school specific grant funding. Alumni associations will frequently sponsor grant programs, but they are not always well advertised, so be sure to specifically ask.