Financial Aid & Scholarships
Financial Aid Application Overview
Any student who plans to attend a 4-year college, 2-year college, or trade school should apply for financial aid. The four general types of financial aid applications (not including private loans) are:
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- New York State aid: Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and other scholarships
- Institution-based scholarships
- Private scholarships
Free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The FAFSA is the starting point for receiving federal student aid. The FAFSA is FREE, so you should never be charged to complete the application. Most colleges require a completed FAFSA to develop financial aid packages and to offer scholarships. It is recommended that students begin filling out the FAFSA in early October of their senior year. For instructions on how to complete your FAFSA, review the Financial Aid Checklist that you received during your senior meeting. This video tutorial is another resource that explains the process of completing the application.
New York State Aid
The New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) helps eligible New York residents pay for tuition at approved schools in New York State. Because TAP is a grant, it does not have to be paid back. The easiest way to apply for TAP funding is through your FAFSA, which directly links to the TAP application. Refer to your Financial Aid Checklist and the TAP website for more details.
New York State also offers a variety of loans, grants, and scholarships, including the Excelsior Scholarship Program and the Scholarships for Academic Excellence. Visit the NYS Higher Education Services Corporation website for a comprehensive list of financial aid opportunities.
Colleges often have scholarships and grants available to their students. Many of these are awarded to students based on the information that they provided on their FAFSAs; no additional application is required. However, some institutions do have scholarships that require a separate application, so it is recommended that students visit the financial aid website of the college they plan to attend to find out if these opportunities exist.
Below are resources to help you search for a variety of national and local scholarships:
- Naviance: National and local scholarship opportunities are posted here.
- Fastweb: A free service that matches students to relevant scholarships
- QuestBridge: Students who meet financial and academic qualifications can apply to college in a unique way.
- RaiseMe Micro-Scholarships: Get micro-scholarships from colleges for your achievements in high school
- Check with local businesses, your bank, and your place of employment, as they are also good resources for scholarships.
Financial Aid Help & Resources
ESM FAFSA Help Night
ESM invites financial aid professionals from NYS HESC to help families complete financial aid applications. This evening event happens in October each year. Please check back for the 2021 date.
SUNY Financial Aid Days
This statewide program offered by SUNY is a service to ALL prospective college students and their families (not just students applying to SUNY colleges). The presentations are designed to answer questions and provide assistance regarding the financial aid application, types of aid available, and the award process. SUNY ESF and SUNY OCC are two of the local colleges that host this event every fall. Pre-registration is required. To view dates and register, visit the SUNY Financial Aid Days website.
- StartHereGetThere.org: Sponsored by the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), this website provides students and families personal assistance with their FAFSA and other financial aid questions. Questions can be submitted via email, and online chats are available.
- New York State Financial Aid Administrators Association: A non-profit organization that offers information, resources, and support from financial aid professionals
- College Financial Aid Award Letter Comparison Tool: Evaluate your financial aid packages and determine the bottom line cost – the difference between the cost of attendance and your financial aid package – for each college you were accepted to
- SwiftStudent: This website helps students complete the financial aid appeal process.