A Guide to TAP Financial Aid
New York is home to some of the best and most esteemed institutes of higher learning in the United States, so many students and parents may find themselves wondering how they’re going to afford studying there. One such method is the New York State Tuition Assistance Program, or TAP, which helps eligible New York residents afford to go to select schools in the state.
What Is TAP?
The Tuition Assistance Program is a financial aid package sponsored by the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation. As a grant, it does not need to be paid back. The amount of financial assistance provided by the TAP is determined by the information based on the student’s FAFSA, as well as their school of choice. For example, TAP awards at the University at Albany range from $500 to $5,000, while at New York University, the award can be anywhere from $100 to $2,500 per semester. In the 2010 academic year, the Office of the State Comptroller for New York found that the state had spent $869 million on the Tuition Assistance Program, which provided financial aid to 309,540 undergraduate students looking to go to college or university in New York. A report published by the state comptroller’s office declared that since the program’s founding in 1974, it has provided financial assistance to “millions” of New York residents who might have otherwise had to delay or entirely give up their dreams of pursuing higher education because they could not have afforded it.
Eligibility for the TAP
To be considered for the Tuition Assistance Program, the HESC requires certain eligibility criteria, which include:
- Having New York State residency (applicants must have lived in New York state for 12 months prior to the date of their application)
- Possessing a high school or an equivalency diploma
- Taking a full-time course load at an approved school of higher education in New York, and maintaining good grades up to the fourth semester
- Not be in default on the repayment of any state or federal loans
- Meeting the yearly income limit requirements: $10,000 for single undergraduate students with no tax dependents; $40,000 for married undergraduate students with no dependents; and $80,000 for married or unmarried undergraduate students who have dependents. Income higher than these amounts for their respective categories might jeopardize your eligibility to receive TAP funds.
A further condition on the TAP goes into effect if more than one member in your family is attending a TAP-approved school as a full-time student. If this is the case, your TAP award is reduced by $3,000, and by $2,000 for every student thereafter. As with most financial aid awards or loans, funds from the Tuition Assistance Program are not sent directly to the student. Instead, they go to the school, which will then credit the student’s account with the amount of the award. If the Higher Education Services Corporation chooses you as a TAP recipient, you will receive a certificate and documentation of your award but will not see any of the actual money.