The Different Types of Colleges
- Students need to register for the SAT and ACT online
- Fee waivers are available for qualifying students (please see your High School Counselor). Otherwise a credit card will be necessary to complete the payment portion of the registration.
- Do you have an IEP or 504? You will need to apply for testing accommodations through both CollegeBoard (SAT) and ACT. Please see your High School Counselor for more information.
- Start by checking admissions requirements for each college or university you want to apply to. Most colleges/universities post their application and admission criteria on their admissions websites. Check requirements for letters of recommendations, essay, interview/resume, SAT/ACT, SAT Subject Tests, high school GPA/Rank, application deadline, application fee, etc.
- apply to a variety of private and state colleges and universities - use the Common Application at www.commonapp.org
- apply to SUNY campuses - use the SUNY application at www.suny.edu
- apply to Community Colleges - use the applications found on the colleges' websites (typically the applications found on the Community College's websites are cheaper than the SUNY application..sometimes it is even free to apply using their site)
- other applications may be found on college/universities' admissions websites
- College Ranking/Resource Websites:
Complete the 2020-21 FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1, 2019 -- the date it becomes available. Learn the Top 10 Reasons to Complete the FAFSA Early.
Apply for a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) online at fsaid.ed.gov to complete and electronically sign your FAFSA and other federal student aid documents. Applying before you start the FAFSA makes the process a lot easier. Both the student and one parent/guardian will need a FSA ID.
Complete the FASFA online at FAFSA.ed.gov. Step-by-step assistance is available as you complete the form. For the 2020-2021 academic year, you will use 2018 tax information.
You will be able to review your Student Aid Report (SAR) once your FAFSA is processed. The SAR will show how much federal aid you are entitled to receive and how much your family can expect to pay. They will also provide you with your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
If you are a New York State resident attending college in New York State, apply for TAP.
Learn about the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)
Click on the "Start your state application" link on the online FAFSA confirmation page to complete your TAP application after submitting the FAFSA.
Or, if you already filed the FAFSA apply for TAP now.
Apply for New York State awards and scholarships for which you are eligible.
STEP THREE - aid from the colleges/universities
The colleges you listed on the FAFSA will receive a copy of your information that they use to determine institutional aid. Once accepted, you will receive an award letter from the college detailing the aid you can receive at that college.
Check with your college to see if there are additional applications for institutional aid, such as the CollegeBoard's CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE application.
STEP FOUR - outside scholarships
Scholarships and awards are offered by other sources such as community groups, clubs and organizations.
Ask your high school counselor about available scholarships and awards.
Search FREE scholarship websites. Do not pay for them.
STEP FIVE - compare award letters
Each college to which you are accepted will send a college award letter detailing the financial aid package you are eligible to receive.
Review and compare financial aid award letters carefully before making a decision. Use HESC's Award Letter Comparison Tool.
Once you choose the college you will attend, follow instructions on how to accept or decline each part of the offer of aid, and supply any other documents as requested.
Call the college financial aid office and make sure all documents are received, and your financial aid is set before classes start.
STEP SIX - student loans
If necessary, apply for student loans. Be sure you have received all federal, state and institutional grants and scholarships for which you qualify before you take any student loans. Loans must be repaid with interest.
Start with federal loans. Federal loans have low, fixed-rates for students and parents. Follow the instructions in your award letter to receive federal loans. For more information, visit studentaid.ed.gov.
Private loans are an option if you still have a funding gap after applying for and receiving all aid as well as federal student loans. Learn more about private loans.