What follows is a brief overview of the process of applying for and receiving aid. Detailed procedures can be found elsewhere in this site. The aid process can be easily summarized using the six R's; research, request, review, receive, renew and repay.
High schoolers can't apply for federal or state aid until January of their senior year. Prior to that they should focus on researching what types of aid are available from what sources and how to go about qualifying for the aid.
Some schools will make an early estimate (prior to January) of a student's aid eligibility. If that is the case, the school will have special procedures that must be followed to make that determination.
All students should start their search for available scholarships up to a year before they intend to enroll in college. This will allow ample time to identify those scholarships for which they might qualify, complete essays and secure letters of recommendation. Many scholarships have deadlines as early as January 31, so plan accordingly.
To receive federal or state aid, and in many cases scholarships and other grants, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form becomes available each January for the upcoming academic year.
The FAFSA is completed electronically. To complete the FAFSA both the student and one parent (if student is dependent) must have a federal PIN number.
New York State residents should also apply for a TAP grant. When students file the FAFSA they have the option of completing the TAP application at the end of the FAFSA application. If the student doesn't complete it then they can complete it through TAP on the Web at a later date.
Students should also contact the schools they are interested in to see if there are additional forms or applications required to be considered for a school's institutional scholarships and grants. Often private schools require the completion of a form called the PROFILE or an institutional applicationtudents should also contact the schools they are interested in to see if there are additional forms or applications required to be considered for a school's institutional scholarships and grants. Often private schools require the completion of a form called the PROFILE or an institutional application.
After the student submits the FAFSA form they will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) which summarizes the information on the FAFSA form. Each school that the student listed on the FAFSA will also receive the SAR data.
After reviewing the SAR, the school may request additional information such as tax documents. Once the school has all the information they need they will put together an award package for the student and mail an award letter. The letter will detail how much of what aid the school believes the student is eligible for.
Simultaneously, HESC reviews the information submitted on the TAP application and compares it against data on file with the New York State Treasury department. If HESC doesn't need additional information then they will also issue an award notice indicating a student's TAP eligibility at the first NY school listed on the FAFSA form.
The TAP award is only good at the school listed on the award letter so the school code must be changed if the student is attending elsewhere.
Once the student has the award letter(s) in hand they should compare aid packages and determine which schools they can afford to attend. Students who need additional payment options should investigate timed payment plans, student employment, PLUS loans and alternative loans.
Prior to receiving the financial aid some aid programs require that additional things be done.
- Loans will require completion of a promissory note and entrance interview.
- Students awarded work-study must secure a job and complete employment papers.
- To receive a work-study paycheck a student must, of course, work.
- Some scholarships require that students have their enrollment verified by the Registrar's Office.
- The student must register for and begin attending classes.
At Buffalo State, once the drop/add period is over (week one) aid begins to be disbursed. Aid is used to pay the school charges first. Once all charges are paid any excess aid is refunded to the student to assist with living expenses.
Students who will have excess aid may also request a book deferment which will allow them a line of credit in the school bookstore.
To receive aid for another academic year the whole process must be repeated beginning with completing the FAFSA form again starting in January. It's a good idea to remember that tax time is also FAFSA time.
Reminders to complete the upcoming year's FAFSA are posted around campus but it is the student's responsibility to reapply. Students who fail to do so in a timely fashion often lose out on loans and grants that have limited funding, are assessed late fees by Student Accounts and/or do not have aid in place to qualify for a book deferment at the start of the year.
Many students will not have to complete additional promissory notes or the TAP application for a second year of aid. However, students should be careful to review all emails and documents sent to them and respond in a timely matter to assure that they will continue to receive the aid they are relying on.
If a student is not in attendance at school for six months or longer and has borrowed a Stafford Loan they will need to begin repayment of the loan or request a deferment or forbearance if they meet the qualifications for such. Perkins loan borrowers can be out of school for nine months before they must begin payment on their loans. Repayment terms for alternative loans vary by lender.
A student is considered to not be in attendance at the point in time where they cease to be enrolled at least half-time (6 credit hours). If a student re-enrolls at least half-time prior to the end of the six or nine month grace period then repayment of the loans does not begin until they once again cease attending at least half-time for six or nine months respectively.