Applying for financial aid is a lengthy process with many steps. This section explains what you need to do and what you can expect to happen.
It also explains what to do if you think you have some extenuating circumstances that should be taken into consideration in the determination of your aid eligibility.
Use the Financial Aid Timeline to assist you along the way!
The process of applying for both Federal and New York State aid starts with completing the FAFSA form.
To file the forms a student should:
- apply for a PIN number (used as alternate signature)
- complete the FAFSA (free application for federal student aid)
- complete the TAP application (for NYS residents only)
- view processed fafsa information -- review the SAR (student aid report)
When to Apply
Buffalo State has a priority awarding date of March 1 each year for the following fall. This is the date that aid packaging begins. Some aid is limited and is awarded to the first students who qualify. For this reason it is best to apply early. Aid for students starting in the spring semester is awarded beginning in November.
Getting a PIN Number
When filing electronically the student and one parent (if student is considered a dependent) should apply for a PIN number at www.PIN.ed.gov.
The PIN number serves as an electronic signature on the FAFSA form as well as on other things. The PIN number can be used to secure debt in your name so should be kept confidential.
Once you have a PIN number it is good for life. If you forget it or it is compromised you can request a new one at the PIN site.
File the FAFSA - Buffalo State College Federal School Code: 002842
www.FAFSA.ed.gov is the only official federal website for completing the FAFSA. If you go to a site that charges a fee or otherwise solicits your business you have not gone to the correct website.
Both the student and one parent (if student is considered dependent) will need to enter their PIN numbers. If you do not do so, the FAFSA will be invalid until the signatures have been provided either via a paper signature page or electronically (via the PIN).
Be sure to list Buffalo State's school code, 002842, on the FAFSA so that we will receive your application information.
File the TAP Application - Buffalo State College NY School Code: 0905
At the end of the FAFSA you will be given an opportunity to complete the TAP Application if you are a New York State resident and have listed a NY school on the FAFSA.
If you do not complete the TAP application online within 24 hours you will not have another opportunity to do so again at the FAFSA site. Instead, you will need to go to the TAP on the Web site. The Tap on the Web site will require you to create a pin number specifically for use at this site. Since you are allowed to choose your own pin number we recommend you set it up to be the same as your federal pin number.
If you do not have a valid FAFSA filed listing you as a NY resident you will not be able to use TAP on the Web. First complete or correct the FAFSA information and then you will be able to use Tap on the Web.
When you complete the TAP application be certain to add Buffalo State's school code, 0905.Review the SAR
After completing the FAFSA you will receive a notice by email that your Student Aid Report (SAR) is complete. This form summarizes all the information that was provided on the FAFSA and gives further instructions. If you are unable to be reached by email, the processor will send you a paper copy. Corrections to your FAFSA can be made online at the FAFSA website.
Corrections usually takes two to four weeks to be processed if done via paper and less than one week if done electronically.
Deadlines to file for FAFSA and TAP applications
Applications become available online as of January 1st prior to the fall semester:
FAFSA applications run from January 1 through June 30 of the following year (deadline date to apply).
- For example, for the 2012-13 school year, students may submit their FAFSA between January 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013
- TAP applications run from January 1 through June 30th (consistent with the FAFSA).
Although the dealine date to apply is June 30th of each academic year, a student must have a valid FAFSA on file with the college and be enrolled to receive federal aid. This means that if a student does not have a valid FAFSA in place prior to the last day of classes, they become ineligible to recieve aid. If a student is requesting loan money, processing time of at least a week prior to the last day of classes is necessary to ensure eligibility to receive funds. Students who withdraw from a term and then submit a valid FAFSA when they return in a later term will only receive aid for the latter semester.
After BSC has received the FAFSA data and any additional information that has been requested and the student meets all other eligibility criteria, an award letter is sent to the student detailing what aid they qualify for.
Students should review the letter and determine if they are going to accept the aid offered, and/or request other revisions. Continuing students will be sent an email directing them to view their award at the Banner site. Keep in mind that the award letter is an estimate of aid eligibility and is subject to change.
If the student hasn't received an award letter within a month of having submitted information something may be wrong. The student should contact the school to find out which of the issues outlined in the Avoiding Obstacles section of the site is causing them problems.
If the aid offered, coupled with current family resources, is not enough to cover the cost of attending then consideration should be given to the options listed here:
- BSC's Time Payment Plan
- Part-time job (listings available through the Career Development Center in Grover Cleveland 306)
- Federal PLUS Loan (taken out by a dependent student's parent)
- Alternative Loan (private bank loan taken out by student)
- Departmental scholarships or scholarships from outside agencies
- Other financing options such as a second mortgage on the home or assistance from other relatives
Completeing the Process
A promissory note is the legal document a student/parent must sign which says that they promise to repay the loan they are being granted. All three loan programs (Perkins, Stafford, PLUS) now have Master Promissory Notes (MPN).
An MPN allows a person to take out multiple loans over multiple years based on signing a single note. The MPN's can be completed on the Internet and signed using the federal PIN or HESC PIN. Before loan funds can be disbursed, a valid MPN must be on file.
In subsequent years the student will only need to accept their loans in Banner to receive additional loan funds. Parents will have to notify the school each year of how much they want to borrow in PLUS funds.
First time student borrowers must complete an "entrance counseling" before loan funds can be disbursed. The entrance counseling is used to inform students of their rights and responsibilities as a borrower.
The Stafford Loan entrance counseling can be done on-line at StudentLoans.gov.
Students have three days from the day the funds arrive at the school to complete the entrance counseling or the funds will be returned to the lender. For this reason the entrance counseling should be completed BEFORE the start of the semester.
Perkins borrowers will complete the entrance interview online at the same time they complete the MPN.
Find a Job
Having a work-study award does not guarantee a job. Students must conduct a job search using the on-line job listings. If you were awarded work-study you will be sent a packet of information in August/December/April that will give you detailed instructions on conducting a job search.
Once a department hires a student for a work-study position the student must submit employment papers to the Financial Aid Office prior to beginning to work. Students must prove that they are eligible to work in the U.S. by showing their social security card, birth certificate, passport or other proof. The original document must be provided. Photocopies or faxes are not acceptable.
Any requests to have enrollment verified by the school should be submitted to the Registrar's Office. This includes proof of enrollment for scholarships, loan deferments and for health insurance purposes.