State Aid Frequently Asked Questions

The Office of Registrar has created several frequently asked questions pertaining to State Aid. For additional information about TAP, APTS, and the Dream Act, you may email For additional information about the Excelsior Scholarship, you may email

Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)

Once a student fails to declare a major on or before a deadline, he/she loses TAP for that particular semester. There are no exceptions.

Students must take the ATB exam within the add/drop period of the term, even if the student is given permission to retake the ATB exam.

To become eligible for state aid, the student must pass the ATB exam prior to the census date of the corresponding term, if they do not possess a High School Diploma or GED from within the United States.

Yes. A home-schooled student is eligible for state aid if they have a letter from the District Superintendent, or the student can take and pass an approved ATB Exam or the GED Exam.

Yes. A student must pass an ATB Exam. IEP diplomas are not equivalent to a local or Regents Diploma.

No. Effective July 1, 2006, students without a High School Diploma from the United States must have passed an approved ATB exam.

Prior to January 2015, if the student had earned the State Education Department (SED) required 24 core credits, HESC had advised that the student did not have to obtain a High School Equivalency Diploma (GED) to fulfill the Ability to Benefit (ATB) requirement. However, students who fell into this category were encouraged to apply.

On January 21, 2015, SED issued a memorandum providing additional guidance in relation to the high school equivalency requirements. A student without a valid high school diploma must hold a high school equivalency diploma or receive a passing score on a federally approved ability to benefit test. Students who have earned the required 24 credits can receive the NYS High School Equivalency Diploma by providing satisfactory evidence to SED that he/she has successfully completed the required 24 credits. In addition, the student will have to file the required application through a process overseen by SED's High School Equivalency (HSE) Office. Students must receive a New York State High School Equivalency Diploma by the first day of classes for a particular term to be certified as eligible for an award for that term.

To be a NYS resident for purposes of receiving this award, applicants who consider NYS their permanent home and who are either a U.S. citizen, qualified paroled refugee, or permanent resident alien must have resided in New York State for 12 continuous months prior to the term for which the award is being sought.

The processing of a TAP application may take three to five weeks. During certain times of the academic year processing times for "Requests for Information" and "Change Forms" may vary depending on additional review needed for income verification or residency review. Your award should be considered an estimate until your college has certified your eligibility for TAP.


Excelsior Scholarship

Applicants who have earned a certificate can receive an award to pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree, provided they immediately enroll in a two-year or four-year program upon completion of their certificate program, and provided all credits have been accepted by the receiving college.

Your household federal adjusted gross income can total up to $125,000 to be eligible.


Aid for Part-Time Study (APTS)

Aid for Part-time Study is a New York State grant program for students pursuing a degree on a part-time basis. It is money paid to the school for tuition only.

One semester of Aid for Part-time Study counts as one-half a semester of TAP. You may receive up to 16 semesters of Aid for Part-time Study as a bachelor degree student but no more than your remaining undergraduate TAP eligibility will allow.


Senator José Peralta NYS Dream Act

The Senator José Peralta New York State DREAM Act gives undocumented and other students access to New York State‐administered student financial aid to support their higher education costs. To be eligible to apply for one or more New York State student financial aid programs, students are required to:

  • Have both attended a New York State high school for at least two years and have received a NYS high school diploma OR received a NYS high school equivalency diploma OR qualified for in-state tuition at SUNY or CUNY colleges.
  • Apply within five years of earning you NYS high school diploma or equivalency diploma if pursuing an undergraduate degree or 10 years if pursuing a graduate degree.
  • Have one of the following citizenship/immigration statuses:
    • Have a T-Visa
    • Have a U-Visa
    • Have Temporary Protected Status
    • Be without lawful immigration status
    • Be a U.S. Citizen whose permanent home is not in New York State
    • Be a paroled refugee whose permanent home is not in New York State
    • Be a Permanent Resident

Colleges are prohibited by law from reporting a student’s immigration status without the consent of the student.