Apply for Financial Aid
If you have never applied for financial aid in the past, the first thing to do is to Create an FSA ID account. An FSA ID gives you access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems and can serve as your legal signature. Both the student (aid applicant) and one parent (if the student is dependent) will need to create one and keep the user name and password associated with it in a safe place. This FSA ID will be used for several financial aid processes, including your renewal application each year.
The application process for financial aid is not as difficult as most people think. In fact, the simple on-line process automatically checks for mistakes and helps you avoid them. After obtaining your FSA ID account, the next step in the financial aid application process is the submission of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (also known as the FAFSA). This process can be completed quickly and easily on the United States Department of Education’s website. The information that you provide on this application will allow the Financial Aid Office to determine your eligibility for Federal Pell Grants, Federal SEOG, Federal Work-Study, and Federal Direct Stafford Student Loans. Be sure to list SUNY Niagara (School Code 002874) as your school choice when completing the form, as this will send your eligibility results directly to the SUNY Niagara Financial Aid Office. Click here to start your on-line FAFSA application at studentaid.gov
Upon completion of the FAFSA on-line, you will also need to complete the online application for the New York State TAP program. A direct link is automatically provided through the FAFSA website if you meet the eligibility requirements. SUNY Niagara’s State TAP Code is 2215. If you have already completed your FAFSA and did not complete the on-line TAP application, you can access it directly at TAP Online Application.
Once you have completed the on-line applications, keep copies of income documentation (both taxable and non-taxable), application printouts, confirmation pages, and any other information used in completing financial aid forms.
Application Deadline: You should complete your FAFSA at least ninety days before you begin classes. We cannot process any federal financial aid for you until we have received your data from the FAFSA processor. If you have not applied before school, please come and talk to us in the financial aid office as soon as you start school. The absolute deadline to file the FAFSA is a few weeks before you finish classes for the financial aid year (or otherwise leave school for any reason), because we must receive your approved FAFSA data while you are attending during the school year in order to process your financial aid. If you experience difficulties filling out the on-line FAFSA form, just contact our office and we will be happy to assist you.
The “Verification” Process
About one-third of all FAFSA applications are selected for a review process called “verification”. If your application is selected, you will be asked to provide to the Financial Aid Office copies of your income tax returns and other income and asset information, and similar information from your parent(s) if you are a dependent student. The federal FAFSA processor will let you know if you are selected for verification. We will also send you a letter if your application is selected, giving you instructions and a list of the necessary items. You can also download the federal verification worksheets (and numerous other forms) from our forms page.
The New York State TAP application system also contains a review process. All applications are cross-checked against the NYS Taxation and Finance computers beginning about June each year. If you have made an error on your application, it will be corrected automatically and a new award certificate will be sent to you if necessary.
Deadlines: We cannot process any federal financial aid for you until all necessary documents are submitted and reviewed. Sometimes this process results in the need for the Financial Aid Office to send electronic corrections to your FAFSA data, and this can add a few more days to the processing time. Therefore, it is important to submit any requested documents as soon as possible. There are also federal verification deadlines that give us only a short time after you complete your program or otherwise cease attending to complete the process.
Applying for Other Sources of Aid
There are many other sources of aid outside of the traditional financial aid programs, each with their own rules and application processes. Students should track down other sources of aid, and scholarships. Many community clubs, organizations, businesses, and churches offer educational scholarships, and some industries offer paid education as an employee benefit. Most libraries have a section on college planning that includes information on financial aid. SUNY Niagara’s library has scholarship materials on reserve for use by students wishing to investigate private funding.
Applying for a Student Loan or Parent Loan
Federal Stafford Student Loans and Federal Parent Loans for Undergraduate Study (PLUS Loans) each have their own additional application processes (after completing the FAFSA). Click on the following link to go to a page that explains How to Apply for Federal Student Loans and Parent Loans.
Financial Aid Office
Location: Enrollment Center (Notar Admin Bldg)
Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00am – 4:00pm*