New Merit-Based Scholarship Available for Your Graduating HS Seniors

(May 2015) Your graduating high school seniors who plan to attend a college or university located within the State may be eligible to receive a new merit-based State scholarship –– the New York State Achievement and Investment in Merit Scholarship (NY-AIMS).

NY-AIMS provides high school students who excel academically with $500 in merit-based scholarships to support their cost of attendance at any college or university located in New York State.

To be eligible, a student must be a U.S. citizen and New York State resident, and achieve at least two of the following:

  • A final grade point average of 3.3 or higher, upon high school graduation
  • A New York State Regents diploma with honors or a New York State Regents diploma with advanced designation with honors
  • A score of 3 or higher on two or more Advanced Placement examinations
  • A rank within the top 15% of his/her high school class

Students may apply between May 22, 2015 and June 30, 2015 for one of the 5,000 scholarships that will be awarded for the 2015-16 academic year. More details about NY-AIMS is available at

Please share this information with your top students attending college in New York State.

New York STEM Incentive Program Applications Available

New York’s best and brightest students are now able to apply for the New York STEM Incentive Program for the 2015-2016 academic year.

The Incentive program, launched last year by Governor Andrew Cuomo, encourages high school seniors in the top ten percent of their graduating class to pursue high-demand, high-tech careers in New York by providing a full SUNY or CUNY tuition scholarship if they major in a STEM field and work in a STEM job in New York State for five years after graduation.

STEM careers are growing 2.5 times faster than those in any other field across the state. This award will provide top students a world-class education while creating a pathway to high-paying jobs in New York’s high-need, high-growth industries.

To be eligible for a STEM incentive award, a student must be attending a New York State high school and be ranked in the top ten percent of his/her graduating class and enroll in full-time study at a SUNY or CUNY college in the fall term following graduation. Eligibility details and an application are available now on HESC’s website.

Application deadline for the New York STEM Incentive Program is August 15, 2015.

You Did It! New York College Application Week a Success

New York’s second annual College Application Week was a great success, thanks to the 209 high schools and community groups that participated this year, strong partners, including the New York City Department of Education, and volunteers from college admission offices .

For the 109 schools and groups who reported, 7,329 students submitted college applications…and they submitted a total of 16,992 college applications! With only half of the participating schools reporting, we know there were at least 10,000 students participating with upward of 25,000 college applications submitted.

College Application Week is part of the American College Application Campaign (ACAC), a national initiative of the American Council on Education (ACE) to provide every graduating high school senior the opportunity to apply to college. Special focus is placed on assisting students who would be the first in their families to attend college, low-income students, and students who may not have otherwise seriously considered applying for college. New York’s College Application Week activities provided advisement and assistance, encouragement and excitement for the college application process to all students, especially those who might mistakenly believe they are not able to attend college.

HESC provides participating schools and other non-profit organizations with support to hold their events via its website,, an online site coordinators manual, toolkit, and printed posters and stickers.

Many counselors suggested that the 2015 College Application Week take place earlier in the fall. Planning is already underway and New York’s campaign will be held October 26-30. Please mark your calendar and watch for updates this spring.

FAFSA Completion Initiative Helps Get Students to the Finish Line

The U.S. Department of Education, with the assistance of state grant agencies, has implemented a new program, called the FAFSA Completion Initiative, to help increase FAFSA completion rates and promote college access and success.

Under the FAFSA Completion Initiative, HESC has been authorized to provide high schools with FAFSA filing status information. As an enhancement to the Federal Initiative, HESC will also provide participating high schools or school districts with information on your students’ Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) filing status. Obtaining this information will allow you to identify and assist students and families in completing a FAFSA, thereby maximizing their access to free and low-cost financial aid to support their college costs.

Schools may sign an agreement to participate in the initiative anytime, however you are encouraged to register as early as possible to obtain information beginning in January for your students entering college in 2015.

Learn more about the FAFSA Completion Initiative and how your school can participate.

Gov. Cuomo Encourages Students & Families to Complete the FAFSA Early in the New Year

Each year, New York high school seniors leave college money on the table by overlooking an important key to college financial aid – the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – the FAFSA. Some students and families mistakenly believe they don’t qualify for aid because they have too much or too little income. Others are simply frustrated by the FAFSA form itself, believing it’s too difficult to complete.

Start Here, Get There is HESC’s annual statewide campaign to educate students and families about college financial aid and offer assistance in completing the FAFSA. Last year, HESC and college financial aid volunteers helped thousands of students and families complete the FAFSA through personal, one-to-one assistance at FAFSA completion events held across the state. This year, we’ve added more events and locations to assist even more families.

At college-bound students and families can find information about federal, state, and college-based financial aid, including New York’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) grant and scholarships. The website lists FAFSA completion events, organized by geographic regions of the state, where students and families can receive one-on-one assistance with their FAFSA at workshops staffed by financial aid administrators from local colleges. In addition, students and families seeking answers to their FAFSA questions can:

·        Chat online at

·        Call the toll-free FAFSA Hotline at 1-800-808-1790 Mondays through Thursdays from 9 am - 5 pm, or

·        Send an email inquiry to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The website also provides resources for you as you help your students prepare to complete the FAFSA including downloadable posters, flyers, checklists, and hand-outs, as well as static and animated web banners for your school counseling website. You’ll also find a library of timely articles you can adapt for your own use in newsletters and other communications with families.

To read and download the Governor’s Proclamation, find events in your region, or for more information about financial aid and completing the FAFSA, visit

Join New York's College Application Week

Your high school is invited to participate in New York State's second College Application Week.

College Application Week (CAW) is a national initiative with the goal to provide every graduating high school senior the opportunity to apply to college. The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), New York's student financial aid agency, coordinates College Application Week.

Special focus is placed on assisting students who would be the first in their families to attend college, low-income students, and students who may have not otherwise seriously considered applying to college. CAW began as a pilot at a single high school in North Carolina in 2005; activities now occur in more than 2,513 schools in 39 states and the District of Columbia.

New York College Application Week 2014 will be held November 17- 21. Please review the detailed description of host site expectations and resources and support that will be made available to you.

If you are able, or tentatively able to participate, please complete and submit a host site information sheet. More information, including a site coordinator tool kit, is available on the dedicated web site,

Spring 2014 - College Financial Aid Award Letter Tool

March and April are College Acceptance Months: Students receiving their college financial aid award letters can compare differences, calculate net costs and estimate total cost of college education, including student loan repayment scenarios

HESC has launched a College Financial Aid Award Letter Comparison Tool to help college-bound students and families interpret their award letters and get the bottom line cost of each college before making their final decision.

Students usually apply to several colleges and most award letters don’t follow a standard format. It can be challenging for families to accurately compare their financial aid awards and get to the bottom line cost for each college. Without a full understanding of the total costs, including which aid is grants that don’t have to be paid back and which are student loans, it may be difficult to choose the best college at an affordable price for the family.

The College Financial Aid Award Letter Comparison Tool allows students and families to see side-by-side comparisons, highlights net costs and estimates the full two or four-year cost of each college.

If student loans are offered, the bottom line report will also recommend the potential income needed to comfortably pay student loans after graduation based on an occupation chosen by the user. HESC uses current data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook to provide median salary estimates for the selected occupation.

Not only does this feature allow the student and family to understand the impact of borrowing as it relates to their current real life circumstances and future circumstances, it encourages students to consider their major field of study carefully so they can make adjustments in either career or college choices, if necessary. Students can be informed about loan costs up front, before they commit to a college or career path. The comparison tool provides details about the student’s total estimated debt at each institution, approximate monthly loan payments, and the minimum annual salary required to afford these payments.

The comparison tool’s flexibility allows students and families to go back and make adjustments to the data to make alternative occupation choices, include additional out-of-pocket money or other adjustments that will help them review the scenarios and make a completely informed decision about their college and field of study.

No personal data is collected or saved.

Click here for a poster you can print and display in your counseling office and at other locations at school to let your students and families know how this important tool can help them make an informed decision about their college choice.