Frequently Asked Questions About Financial Aid

General Questions

Does your school accept financial aid?

Yes, you need to complete the appropriate-year FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application. Enrollments beginning May 2022 through enrollments beginning March 2023 are considered part of the 2022-2023 school year. Please contact the office if you plan to enroll in a term and you are unsure of which year aid to apply for.

How do I apply for financial aid?

This can be done by going to the FAFSA website at The FAFSA application will review eligibility for the federal Pell grant and Stafford student loans. It also will review eligibility for the NYS TAP award and forward an application, if you are eligible. The NYS TAP award is for full-time status. If you are planning to study part time, you would need to complete the New York state aid for part-time study (APTS) application, which can be found under financial aid forms.

What is your school code and why can't I find you listed on the FAFSA?

The school code for Empire State College is 010286. If you are looking us up by name, we are listed under SUC Empire State College.

How early should I apply for financial aid?

You should apply for financial aid at least two months prior to the term you wish to start. You can submit your FAFSA application at the same time you submit your admission application to ensure your funds are in place for your starting term.

I have a child attending college and I plan to attend as well. Will this negatively impact my child's eligibility for financial aid?

No, the FAFSA does not allow a dependent student to claim parent(s) attending college. Therefore, the expected family contribution is not adjusted due to the parent(s) attending college as well. When you complete your FAFSA you will list both yourself and your child as attending, so that the EFC accurately reflects your household situation.

How much will financial aid cover?

This amount will vary depending on the amount of financial aid you are eligible for and the amount of credits for which you register.

How is financial aid determined?

Financial aid is intended to supplement, not replace, a family's resources. (A family's resources include the student's resources, spouse's resources (if married at the time of application) and parents' resources, if dependent.) For that reason, most families should think of themselves as the first and probably primary source of funds for college. Annual family taxable and nontaxable income is not the only factor considered in evaluating your eligibility for financial aid. A family's assets also are considered, since a family with assets (such as a savings account or investments) is considered to be in a stronger financial position than a family with the same income, but no assets.

Families provide financial information about themselves on a need-analysis document, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is sent to a federal student aid processor, where a need analysis is performed using a standard formula. The processor sends the information to the student in the form of a student aid report (SAR). The financial aid office reviews the calculations and determines the student's ability to contribute to the costs of education based upon the information the student supplied and federal regulations. We do our best to cover as much of the individual's need as resources in the aid programs permit.

How do I take out a federal direct stafford student loan?

Student loans will be awarded to any student eligible (determined by the FAFSA) and will require active acceptance once awarded.

How many credits do I need to register for to be eligible for financial aid?

If you are eligible for full Pell and full TAP benefits, you would need to register for full-time status, which would be between 12-16 credits. If you are going to be a part-time student, you still may be eligible for Pell, but it will be adjusted to the number of credits you are taking. You need to be registered for 3-11 credits to be eligible for APTS. Stafford loans are available for both full and part-time students, but you must be registered at least half time (6 or more credits for undergraduate students and 5 or more credits for graduate students).

How do I know if I am eligible for financial aid?

You must complete an appropriate-year financial-aid application; the results will be sent to the school(s) listed on the FAFSA. Once you have submitted any additional documentation requested and your file is complete, you will receive an award notification from our financial aid office.

I don't think I'll qualify for financial aid due to my income. Should I still apply for the FAFSA?

Yes. The federal government has a formula that considers a number of factors, including income, assets, number in household and number in college to determine your expected family contribution. This figure assists us in determining your eligibility for grants and loans. Without the completion of the FAFSA, we cannot fully determine your eligibility. Empire State College also uses FAFSA results in the determination of institutional scholarship eligibility.

My current household/financial information differs from what I indicated on the FAFSA. What should I do?

If you believe your current household or financial circumstances are not accurately reflected on the FAFSA, you may file a special condition/professional judgment request. For more information, please view the Special Condition/Professional Judgment section.

What financial aid programs are available for undergraduate students?

Undergraduate students who are pursuing a degree program may qualify for the federal Pell grant, federal Stafford loans, federal supplemental education opportunity grant (SEOG) and state grants, such as the New York state tuition assistance program (TAP) and New York state aid for part-time studies (APTS) grant. Please note that specific criteria must be met in order to qualify for each of these programs. In addition, institutional undergraduate scholarships may be awarded based on the FAFSA results and academic merit. Certificate program courses are not eligible for financial aid, with the exception of the State Veterans' Tuition Award, unless being used concurrently to satisfy a degree requirement. Non-NY residents should check with their state education agency to find out what state aid assistance may be available. 

What financial-aid programs are available for graduate students?

Graduate students who are pursuing a degree program may qualify for federal Stafford unsubsidized loans and a TEACH grant. Veterans also may be eligible for state veterans' tuition assistance awards. In addition, fellowships may be awarded depending on student eligibility. Certificate program courses are not eligible for financial aid, with the exception of the State Veterans' Tuition Award, unless being used concurrently to satisfy a degree requirement.  Non-NY residents should check with their state education agency to find out what state aid assistance may be available. 

I'm in a combined Bachelor's/Master's degree program.  How is my aid determined?

You will be considered an undergraduate student for federal and state financial aid purposes until you have met the requirements for the Bachelor’s degree.  Students are limited to 12 credits of Master’s level courses during their Bachelor’s studies. Please refer to Undergraduate Financial aid Brochure and Graduate Financial Aid Brochure on our website for more information regarding the financial aid programs available.

Can I use my financial aid to pay for my books?

Yes. However, there must be enough financial aid in place to cover tuition and you must have answered "yes" to the Indirect Charge authorization via Banner Self-Service. Whatever is above and beyond tuition costs can be used for books. If you are eligible to receive a refund, you may use this credit to order and pay for books available at the bookstore.  Please be aware that it can take up to 3-4 business days for a recent credit on your account to be reflected as an available bookstore voucher.

What if I have already applied for financial aid at another school?

If you are transferring your financial aid from anther institution, you need to go back into your online FAFSA application, click "add" (or "delete") a school code and add Empire State College's school code, which is 010286.

How long does it take for me to receive my financial aid refund?

This will vary depending on when the funds are actually received by the school. Student accounts handles all refunds. In general, the refunds are processed approximately six weeks after the start of the term.

I do not have enough grant aid to cover my charges and do not wish to take out loans. What are my options?

If you do not have the funds available to pay the remaining balance in full, you can pay the remaining balance through Empire State College's time payment plan. This will allow you to pay the remaining balance in three installments. Please keep in mind that there is a $25 nonrefundable application fee associated with this option. If you prefer, you can pay the remaining balance using a credit card, but keep in mind that depending on the fee and how quickly you plan to pay off that balance, it may be financially wiser to take out a direct loan for your remaining balance.

I have excess financial aid on my account statement; how do I obtain these funds?

Refunds are sent automatically if you have a credit balance on your account. Refunds are sent to students approximately six weeks after the term has begun, assuming that the student has completed all necessary steps, such as completing the Master Promissory Note for Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan (MPN) and actively accepting the loan, if it is a federal Stafford student loan. Please refer to the student accounts refund schedule for dates. If you are anticipating a refund and have not received one within this timeframe, please contact the Student Accounts office.

Does Empire State College have a Time Payment Plan?

Yes, the college does offer a time payment plan.

My employer is willing to contribute toward my education.  How does this affect my financial aid?

The amount that an employer contributes is considered "aid" for financial aid purposes.  If the payment voucher (third party award) is for tuition only then TAP/APTS would be applied first and the amount of the employer benefit may be reduced or canceled. If the voucher can be used for fees and/or other educational expenses then the overall Cost to Attend for the term would be considered in determining whether other aid would be reduced or canceled.

It is best for employees to contact their employer regarding the tuition assistance program for specific details on their benefit policy and requirements, and to contact the Student Accounts office if you have questions regarding how the benefits will affect your other financial aid offerings. Information regarding how to submit a payment voucher to Student Accounts is available on their website.