Financial Aid Tips


To qualify for any form of financial aid, whether it is a loan, grant, scholarship, or work study, students MUST COMPLETE THE FREE APPLICATION FOR FEDERAL STUDENT AID (FAFSA) FORM.The sooner you send this form in, the better, but accuracy on this form is very important! As time goes on, colleges have less money to give to students, so the earlier you apply for financial aid, the more money you may qualify for. 


REMEMBER: When you receive your aid letter, if it indicates you have qualified for Federal Direct Loans, or any other Loans, they are just that, LOANS, which means you MUST pay them back when you finish college. Ostensibly, if you choose to accept any loans offered on a given year, the total number of loans you take out will be CUMULATIVE. In other words, if you accept three types of Federal Direct or Sallie Mae (private lender loans) in year 1, and in year 2, you then accept four loans, then for year 3, you decline all loans, and finally decide to take four loans in year 5, you will have taken a TOTAL NUMBER OF 11 LOANS! Each loan will have it's own individual interest rate, and could possibly have different loan servicers to which you would send your repayments to. 

Before you take out any loans, please go to and click the "How do I manage my loans" button to learn about loans, repayment, and the implications of taking on loan debt to help finance your college education! 

Check out the FAFSA4caster at FAFSA4caster is a financial aid estimator that you can use before officially applying for financial aid. It will provide you with an estimate of your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is an index that colleges use to determine what types of aid you may receive. Using your EFC, FAFSA4caster will then determine what types of federal grants, loans, and work study you may qualify for and will provide you with an estimated form amount for each. 

*The FAFSA form contains a question and a small-sized link, that asks the student if they would like to be considered for New York State aid (if they are going to an in-state school). If the student indicates that they would like to be considered, an additional TAP application will be sent to the student automatically.

The CSS Profile Form:
*Some colleges also require the CSS Profile form (in addition to the FAFSA), which is available at Mostly private, selective colleges require the Profile- check the list on their website to find out if the schools you are applying to require this form.
*Some colleges (again, usually the private selective schools) require that their own financial aid form be filled out in addition to the FAFSA.

After you fill out the FAFSA form and mail it in/or fill it out on-line, you will receive a letter or an email from each school you applied to. This letter/email will show the “package” that each school is able to offer you.

Check to see if the scholarships have conditions such as…does the recipient need to maintain a certain GPA for renewal?…does the recipient need to be enrolled in a certain academic program?

Don’t let the sticker price of a school prevent you from applying. Many times, the private schools end up giving enough grants and scholarships to make the school economically feasible. This is not to say that you should not apply to less expensive schools; you should always have back-up schools because you can’t count on getting “free money”. Look for the “bottom line”- your “net cost”. Don’t be dazzled by the amount a particular college offers you- focus on how the awards affect the costs you will still have to pay. $40,000 in award money sounds great unless it’s all loans which you have to pay back.