Incarcerated Students FAQs

General Eligibility

Do incarcerated applicants need to meet all the same eligibility requirements (residency, income limit) as a non-incarcerated student applicant to qualify for TAP?
Yes, incarcerated applicants are required to meet the same eligibility requirements as non-incarcerated applicants.
Do incarcerated students need to be in a matriculated program and in Good Academic Standing to receive TAP?
TAP awards can be made to incarcerated students in either approved degree or approved non-degree programs in accordance with NYS Education Law. All students in degree programs must be matriculated and maintain Good Academic Standing requirements regardless of their incarceration status.
Are incarcerated students who are not in Good Academic Standing eligible for GAS or C-average waivers?
Yes, schools should apply the same standards and requirements for all TAP recipients. School representatives should work with the student to gather the required information for granting a C-average waiver should a student not meet the GAS requirements.
Is there a minimum number of credits that must be taken by an incarcerated student to receive a full TAP scholarship?
Students must fulfill the same credit requirements to be considered for a full TAP award, regardless of their incarceration status. Consequently, degree-seeking students enrolled in 12 or more credits are eligible to receive up to the maximum TAP award, and students enrolled in 6 to 11 credits will receive a pro-rated award.
At what point do students become academically ineligible for TAP?
Students become academically ineligible for TAP if:
  1. They have maximized the number of TAP payments they are eligible to receive for the degree or credential being sought
  2. They fail to earn the required cumulative number of credits
  3. They fail to meet the cumulative grade point average
Schools should refer to the NYS Standard of Satisfactory Academic Progress guidelines to determine whether a student meets the requirements for academic progress and is eligible to receive current or future TAP payments.

Residency

How is the one-year residency requirement determined?
Residency determinations are based on the student’s state of residence immediately prior to the student’s incarceration. Consequently, a student who resided outside of NYS immediately prior to their incarceration is not considered a NYS resident even if they have been at the NYS correctional facility for 12 or more months.
If an incarcerated student was homeless prior to incarceration, how is their residency determined?
To establish that a student who was without a traditional residence is a NYS resident, the student should produce documentation showing a relationship to a particular shelter or social service agency prior to their incarceration. The identification letter should be on official letterhead and signed by a person affiliated with the shelter or social service agency.
Are incarcerated students who have been housed in a NYS correctional facility, but who were not residents of New York State prior to incarceration, eligible for TAP?
No. Students who have been housed in a correctional facility in New York State must either (i) have resided in New York State prior to their incarceration or (ii) meet the NYS DREAM Act eligibility requirements to be eligible to apply for TAP.

DREAM ACT Eligibility

Is an incarcerated student who is undocumented eligible to apply for TAP?
Yes. Incarcerated students who are undocumented and deemed eligible to apply for financial aid through the NYS DREAM Act application process may apply for TAP. Please complete the Dreamer Application for Incarcerated Students to determine NYS financial aid eligibility for an incarcerated student who is undocumented.
Can incarcerated students who were residents of New York State but moved out of state prior to incarceration apply through the DREAM Act?
Incarcerated students who did not reside in NYS prior to incarceration and who meet the NYS DREAM Act eligibility requirements may apply for TAP. Please complete the Dreamer Application for Incarcerated Students to determine NYS financial aid eligibility for an incarcerated student who was not a resident of NYS prior to incarceration.

Eligibility for Other NYS Financial Aid Programs

Are incarcerated students eligible for Part-Time TAP?
Yes, incarcerated students who meet the PT-TAP eligibility requirements may receive part-time TAP.
Are incarcerated students eligible for APTS? If yes, how do we process these applications?
Yes, incarcerated students who meet the APTS eligibility requirements may receive Aid for Part-Time Study awards. If an incarcerated student has completed the school’s APTS application, the school (if awarding APTS to that student) should include the student to its recipient list that it sends to HESC for processing.
Are incarcerated students eligible for other NYS scholarships such as MERIT or STEM?
Yes, incarcerated students who meet the eligibility requirements for other NYS financial aid programs, such as MERIT or STEM, may receive such other awards; however, given TAP generally benefits the majority of students (whether enrolled full-time or part-time in a degree or non-degree program), it is currently the only program being processed for the 2022-23 academic year.

Application Processing

Is the TAP-IS application used for students applying for TAP and Part-time TAP?
Yes, the same application is to be used for students applying for TAP whether they plan to enroll full-time or part-time.
What is the deadline to submit a 2022-23 TAP-IS application?
The deadline to submit a 2022-23 application for incarcerated students is 11:59 pm, Eastern Time, June 30, 2023.
When will the 2023-24 TAP-IS paper application be available on the HESC website?
The 2023-24 TAP-IS paper application is expected to available in late July or early August to allow time to identify and address any 2022-23 processing issues. A notification will be sent to schools when it becomes available.
Should we create new user accounts for students who may have utilized TAP in the past before their incarceration?
Yes, new applications should be submitted for students who may have utilized TAP prior to their incarceration, given the student is not able to complete a payment application while incarcerated. Such students, if otherwise eligible, will receive additional awards provided they have not exhausted their maximum payments.
How do I begin the online application process?

The online application can be accessed at NYSHESC.applyISTS.net.

  1. If accessing the system for the first time, you must first register to create an account; otherwise, simply log in using your previously created email and password.
  2. If you are a first-time user, you will only be able to create a new student application by clicking the “Create New Application” button. If you are a returning user, you will be able to link to or update a previously entered application, view the eligibility status of a previously entered application, or create a new student application.
  3. You will need to enter your College Verification Key Code to enter student information into the portal. If you do not have your College Verification Key Code, you can request it by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  4. After selecting your college and entering your credentials, you will be asked to enter the information from the TAP-IS paper applications.
  5. If you do not have all the information needed, you should save the application and return to complete it once all information has been obtained. If you have entered all information, submit the application and upload the paper application and any other required documentation, if specified.
How should we proceed, if we are unable to obtain parent’s information for incarcerated students under the age of 22 and they don’t meet the independent criteria?
If a student’s parent (or spouse) refuses to provide information or authorize approval for income verification by the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance, the applicant should check the appropriate parental (or spousal) refusal box on the paper application, and the school official should check the applicable box on the online application. Additional questions regarding the parent (or spouse) will not appear on the application.
Is there an option to scan the paper TAP application to create an electronic process to file the online application rather than manually entering all of the information from the paper application into the system?
There is presently no ability to for HESC to create an electronic process to file the online application from the paper application.
Should schools submit an online application for an incarcerated student if the paper application has incomplete information?
If the paper application has incomplete information, it is recommended that the schools should enter the available information and
    save
the application. Only complete applications should be submitted.
Is it necessary to send the paper copy of the TAP-IS application to HESC if we scan and upload a PDF copy of it into the portal?
No, it is not necessary to send a paper copy of the TAP-IS application to HESC if you have uploaded the paper application with the submitted online application.
Will parents need access to the portal to sign the application?
No, parents do not need access to the portal to sign the application. Parents and applicants only need to sign the paper application. The online portal only requires the signature of the school official of education representative.
Can the TAP Certifying Officer also input the information from the paper application into the online application?
There are no requirements or restrictions regarding who a school authorizes to input information from the paper application into the online application. It is recommended that schools examine their procedures to ensure compliance with internal control measures such as segregation of duties.

Post application processing

Will the student be identified as an incarcerated individual on the student status report?
No, there will be no identifier on the Student Status Listing to indicate the student is incarcerated.
How are incarcerated students issued refund money?
Money awarded to a student through TAP, or any other NYS financial aid program, is to be applied to tuition costs only and never directly refunded to students. All unexpended state funds are to be returned to New York State regardless of the student’s incarceration status.
Once approved, how will the student information be displayed on the Student Status Listing (SSL)?
All student information will appear in the same format as described in the record layout on the SSL.

Newly Released or Incarcerated TAP Recipients/Transferred Students

What is the process for students who applied for TAP while incarcerated and who are subsequently released?
An applicant who is incarcerated must apply using the TAP-IS process while incarcerated. If the student is subsequently released, they will apply through HESC for all future terms using the standard Payment Application process
If a student transfers to another correctional facility after registration, but before the first day of classes, is the student still eligible for TAP-IS?
If a student transfers to another facility before the first day of class and is enrolled in a different program at the new facility, a college code change would be entered for the student’s new program and new contact information should be provided to HESC at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If the student remains in the same program at the new facility, please notify HESC of the change in facility at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
What if a student moves from one correctional facility to another that has a different college program, mid-semester?
Schools should handle students who are transferred to another correctional facility mid-semester the same as they would handle a student who otherwise stops out mid-semester. The school in which the student was originally enrolled would receive the TAP award payment if the transfer occurred after the full liability date, and a TAP-IS application would be submitted for the new program in the subsequent term.

School Program Participation

What are the requirements that a school must meet to offer a program at a correctional facility? Is SED approval needed for prison programs?
To offer courses in a correctional facility, the courses would need to be part of a program registered at the institution’s principle center or branch campus. Likewise, in order to offer a full degree program in a correctional facility, the program would need to be registered at the institution’s principle center or branch campus. NYSED does not intend to offer a separate approval process to offer courses or programs in correctional facilities.

Please be aware that the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) may have its own separate approval process for educational programs offered in NYS correctional facilities.
What if my school is not listed as an eligible school on your list, but we have a Prisoner Education Program?
If your school has a Prisoner Education Program that is not listed, please contact HESC at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Are county jails classified as correctional facilities?
Yes, students enrolled in a prison education program in a federal, state or local correctional facility are authorized to apply for TAP.

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