• General
  • Eligibility/Citizenship/
    Registration Status
  • Family/Dependency
  • Financial/Tax Related
  • TAP


Can you save the FAFSA once you start it?
You can save the FAFSA for up to 45 days. To access your saved application, simply log into studdentaid.gov with your account username and password.
Is there still a paper version of the FAFSA?
You can download the paper version of the FAFSA and mail it in. It's important to note that the paper FAFSA application takes significantly longer to process than the online application. It's recommended to complete the FAFSA online if possible.
We make too much money to qualify for a Pell Grant. Should we still file a FAFSA?
YES! To qualify for federal Stafford Loans, Parent PLUS Loans, federal work-study, and state grants and scholarships, you will need to file a FAFSA. Many colleges require the FAFSA to qualify for institutional scholarships, grants, or other aid they may have available. Institutional funds may not necessarily be based on need. Remember, you can’t qualify for financial aid if you don’t apply.
I'm already attending college. Do I need to complete another FAFSA?
Yes. You need to file the FAFSA annually to be eligible to receive financial aid. If you've received the Tuition Assistance Program – TAP – from New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), you must also complete a TAP application each academic year.
I’m being asked for a credit card to file the FAFSA.
The first word in FAFSA is "Free." You don't have to pay anyone to complete the FAFSA—either on paper or online—the correct website is studentaid.gov. If you are asked for your credit card information while filling out the FAFSA form, you are not at the official government website.

Eligibility/Citizenship/Registration Status

What determines "Eligible Non-Citizen Status?"
Generally, you are an eligible noncitizen if you are one of the following:
  • U.S. permanent resident with a Permanent Resident Card (formerly known as an Alien Registration Receipt Card or "Green Card")
  • Conditional permanent resident (I-551C)
  • Other eligible noncitizen with an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing any one of the following designations: "Refugee," "Asylum Granted," "Indefinite Parole," "Humanitarian Parole," or "Cuban-Haitian Entrant"
  • Citizen of the Republic of Palau (PW), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (MH), or the Federated States of Micronesia (FM)

You can receive federal student aid if you are an eligible noncitizen. You must enter your eight or nine-digit Alien Registration Number (ARN) on the FAFSA.

Are students with Refugee or Asylum statuses considered Eligible Non-Citizens on the FAFSA? What if their Alien Registration number expires?
Federal Regulations define an eligible non-citizen as someone "able to provide evidence from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that he or she is in the U.S. for other than a temporary purpose with the intention of becoming a citizen or permanent resident." When a student files a FAFSA, an automatic check is run with DHS to determine whether they are a citizen or an eligible noncitizen. If the information does not match with DHS, the college will request documentation from the student to show their eligible status.
How do students who are citizens themselves but whose parents are undocumented complete the parent information on the FAFSA?
For dependent students, the student and at least one parent will be required to contribute information to the FAFSA, including those without a Social Security Number. Those who do not have an SSN can refer to the Federal Student Aid guidelines to learn how to file a FAFSA.
Can an undocumented or student in the DACA program complete the FAFSA?
Undocumented students and students who are undocumented students and have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) do not meet eligibility requirements for federal student aid. However, you may be eligible for other types of student financial aid (state aid, college or career/trade school financial aid, or private scholarships).
Is there a question on the FAFSA where a student can indicate the loss of a military parent in Iraq/Afghanistan post 9/11?
Yes. The FAFSA now has a question about the loss of a parent or guardian in the line of duty on or after the events of 9/11.


My parents are separated/divorced – which parent's financial information should I include?
If your parents are divorced, separated, or never married and don’t live together, the parent who provided more financial support during the last 12 months is the contributor and must provide their information. Visit the FSA Reporting Parent Information site for further details.
I am a stepparent. Do I need to provide my income information for my stepchild, who lives with me and my spouse, on the FAFSA?
If you are a stepparent to a student who is married to the legal parent whose information the student is reporting, you must also contribute information on the FAFSA form and will need your own unique StudentAid.gov account.
My parents are getting divorced. How do I complete the FAFSA application?
You should file the FAFSA reporting the income and asset information of the parent who provided more financial support during the last twelve months if your parents are separated pending divorce. If your parents are still living together at the time you are filing the FAFSA, then you are required to report both of their information regardless of their marital status. You should notify the financial aid office if your parents finalize their divorce and start living separately after you have filed the FAFSA.
I am a high school student and a single mother living on my own. Should I seek independence so I can receive more aid or should I include my mother's information?
If you are a single parent who provides more than half of the financial support to your child, then you can be recognized as an independent student on the FAFSA. If you are younger than 24 years old and your parent is providing most of the financial support to both you and your child, then you are still considered a dependent student, and your parent will need to contribute to the FAFSA.
My mother is deceased and I do not know my father. I currently live with my grandmother. What is my dependency status?
If a student is living with their grandparents or other relatives, their data should not be reported on the FAFSA form as parental data unless they have adopted the student. FAFSA will allow you to skip the parent information and financial sections, and you can sign the FAFSA and submit it.
I am living in foster care and completing the FAFSA. What status do I use?
A student who was, at any time since the age of 13, a foster child or a ward of the court is considered independent, even if their status changed later.
A student was kicked out of the home and no longer has contact with the parents. How is the FAFSA filed without parent information?
If you answer “Yes” to the unaccompanied and homeless question on the FAFSA form, you can complete and submit the FAFSA form without providing your parent’s information.
I recently got married. Do I have to say I'm married on the FAFSA and report my spouse's income, even though they did not contribute to my previous year's income?
Yes, you must indicate your marital status as of the day you are completing the FAFSA and include your spouse's income, even if you did not file taxes together in the tax year you are required to report.

Financial / Tax Related

What is the IRS Direct Data Exchange (DDX)?
The new FAFSA shares IRS federal tax information with the Department of Education and colleges through the new direct data exchange (DDX), formerly done through the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). Every FAFSA contributor is required to consent to DDX even if they didn’t file taxes.
Does my 401K count as an investment?
No. Retirement, life insurance plans, and ABLE accounts do not get reported on the FAFSA.
Do I have to report UGMA or UTMA accounts (Uniform Gifts to Minors Act or Uniform Transfer to Minors Act) on the FAFSA?
Yes, Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA) and Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) accounts must be reported as assets on the FAFSA..
My family is dealing with large medical bills; will that affect my financial aid?
You should notify the college financial aid office of your circumstances and complete a college special circumstances form, if available, or write a letter, including supporting documentation requesting special consideration.
If a parent has 529 college savings plans set up for multiple children, do they need to report the value of all those 529 plans on the FAFSA?
No. Effective with the 2024-2025 FAFSA, only the value of the 529 plan for the student needs to be reported as an asset of the parent(s).
What if my parents current income is different than what was reported on their tax return?
Contact the financial aid office at the college or career school you plan to attend to discuss how your financial situation has changed. Financial aid offices can adjust your financial aid award to reflect your or your family’s current financial situation.


Should I complete the FAFSA before the TAP application?
Yes! You can apply for TAP at the end of the FAFSA on the confirmation page, provided your college list has at least one NYS school. Look for the link, which will take you directly to the TAP online application.
I missed the TAP link on the FAFSA confirmation page. How do I apply for TAP?
If you missed the TAP link at the end of the FAFSA, you can apply at www.hesc.ny.gov/tap.
What if I choose a different school than the one listed on the TAP application?
If your FAFSA information indicates you may be eligible for TAP, you will receive an email from HESC within 3 to 5 business days with a link to the online TAP application.
The TAP application was prefilled with the first New York State College I entered on the FAFSA, but I haven't decided which school I want to attend. What if I choose a different school than the one listed on the TAP application?
You can apply for TAP and make a school code change once you decide what school you will attend.You have several ways to change the school on the TAP application:
  • Access My HESC Account and select the Update College Information link.
  • Ask the financial aid office at the college you will attend to change the school code online at HESC.
What happens to my TAP award if I change from a SUNY to a private NYS school?
TAP awards are based on the tuition cost at your school, regardless of institution type. The current maximum award is $5,665.

Don't see an answer to your TAP question here? Visit HESC's TAP Frequently Asked Questions page.

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