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How To Pay For College

Financial aid helps pay the cost of attending a college such as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and some other special circumstances.  Financial aid includes, grants, scholarships, student loans, and comes from the Federal government, New York State, colleges, community organizations, associations and other groups.  Always start with grants and scholarships which are considered “free money” because they do not have to be repaid.


Applying for financial aid all starts with completing the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is available on October 1st of your senior year. You should complete the FAFSA as soon after October 1st as you can.  Some federal programs are awarded on a first come, first served basis such as the Pell Grant, SEOG, Work Study, and Perkins Loans.  Completing the FAFSA online at is the easiest way.


You and your parents will need Federal Student Aid Identification Numbers (FSA ID’s) to complete and sign your FAFSA electronically.  Go to for your FAFSA ID’s.

Materials you will need to complete the FAFSA are the student’s driver’s license and the student’s Social Security number, the parent’s Social Security numbers and dates of birth, the student’s permanent alien registration number (if not a citizen), both the student’s and parent’s income tax forms, untaxed income, such as child support received, IRA/Pension deductions, veteran’s benefits, or military allowances and investments. You can file your FAFSA using estimated income.  The most accurate estimated income figures can be taken from the end-of-year pay stubs or W-2 forms. This information can be updated later.


If you are a New York State resident and included a New York school on your FAFSA, you can apply for the NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), a free grant; using the link on the FAFSA Submission Confirmation page.  You will be prompted to get a HESC specific username and personal identification number called a HESC PIN to complete your application.  You will use your HESC PIN to sign your application.  Information from your FAFSA will automatically be pre-filled on your application.

Remember completing both these applications is free.  Never pay to have them completed.

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