How to Fill Out the Express TAP Application (ETA) 2015-16

The ETA MUST be completed, signed, and postmarked by June 30, 2016, in order to receive a TAP award!


Application information on the ETA form has been preprinted for you. Please carefully review this information to make sure it is correct. If you need to make changes or supply missing information, you may do so on this application form. This instruction booklet will help you make changes and answer your questions.

The 2015-16 ETA serves as an application for payment for any of the following:

  • Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)
  • Scholarships for Academic Excellence
  • Veterans Tuition Award (VTA)
  • Child of Veteran Award (CV)
  • Memorial Scholarships for Families of Deceased Firefighters, Volunteer Firefighters, Police Officers, Peace Officers and Emergency Medical Service Workers
  • World Trade Center Memorial Scholarships
  • Flight 587 Memorial Scholarship
  • Flight 3407 Memorial Scholarship
  • Military Enhanced Recognition Incentive and Tribute (MERIT) Scholarships also known as Military Service Recognition Scholarships(MSRS)


NOTE: Funding of these programs depends upon action on the State budget for 2015-16. Funding for TAP at the graduate level is no longer available. However, if you have been awarded a graduate scholarship administered by HESC, you must complete the TAP application to request payment of your scholarship.

 

READ THIS SECTION BEFORE COMPLETING YOUR ETA

Filling Out the ETA, Step-by-Step

Here are the general rules for filling out the ETA:

  • Review the preprinted information carefully. Be sure that every single item is correct -- because errors or omissions will potentially delay your award. (Note: The information preprinted in the OUR RECORDS SHOW column is based on your 2015-16 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and, if applicable, on TAP data from past years.)
  • If the preprinted information is correct, do NOT make changes. If it is incorrect, use blue or black ink in THE ANSWER SHOULD BE column to correct the error.
  • Enter data where you see "Enter Correct Data."
  • Sign the back of the form, under Section G.
  • Keep a copy of your application and these instructions for future reference.
  • Mail the completed application to HESC in the envelope provided. If the envelope has been misplaced, return the form to: HESC, PO Box 15135, Albany, NY 12212-5135.
  • If you need to change information after sending in your application, visit hesc.ny.gov. For additional information, call HESC at (888) 697-4372, or contact the Financial Aid Officer at your school.

 

Key Tips

  • When filling in dates, include zeroes where necessary, and use all four digits for years (for example, June 2015 = 062015).
  • All references to parents include natural parents, stepparents, and adoptive parents only -- NOT guardians, grandparents, or other relatives you may live with.
  • Remember, 2015-16 TAP Awards are based on 2014 income. Most award delays arise from errors in reporting income.
  • Your Financial Aid Officer can print a new ETA or Change Form from the Internet and help you make corrections.
  • Need help in filling out the ETA? Contact your high school guidance counselor or college Financial Aid Officer.

 

SECTION A: APPLICANT INFORMATION

1-10. Review carefully and make corrections as needed. If you have no middle initial, leave Item 5 blank. To blank out a middle initial, check the NO Middle Initial box.

11. If you are married, enter your wedding date (month and year). If you were previously married, but are not married now, enter the date on which you were divorced, separated, or widowed (whichever is earliest). If you are single, leave the date blank.

12-13. If you are married, report your spouse's Social Security Number and name. If you were separated, divorced, or widowed after December 31, 2014 report your spouse's Social Security Number and name.

14. Change the response to NO if:

  • You are financially dependent on your parent(s), and neither is a New York State resident (even if they were State residents, but have since established residency in -- or moved to -- another state); OR
  • Your parents do not live together, and the parent you live with is not a New York State resident; OR
  • You live in New York State for the sole purpose of attending college; OR
  • None of the following YES conditions apply.

Leave a response of YES if:

  • You now live in New York State, you will be an undergraduate, and you lived in New York State for the last 2 terms of high school; OR
  • You were a legal resident of New York State when you entered military service, Vista, or the Peace Corps, and you re-established New York State residency within 6 months after release from your service; OR
  • You have lived in New York State for at least 12 months before the first term you want aid for, and you have established permanent residency in New York State.
  • If you are a member of the military, or the spouse or dependent of a member of the military, on active duty and stationed in New York State, contact HESC at (888) 697-4372, regarding eligibility for a waiver of the New York State residency requirement.


15. If you have lived in New York State for less than 5 years, enter the date (month and year) you established New York State Residency, otherwise leave blank.

16-19. Verify the school code and the level for each semester listed.

To change a code for your school: First refer to the list of school codes (on the back of the cover letter enclosed with this application package). Then enter your school's 4-digit code. Also:

  • If the list indicates more than one code for your school, enter the code for your division, branch, or program of study (if it's not already preprinted).
  • If there is no code listed for your school, ask the school's Financial Aid Office for the correct HESC school code to enter.
  • To remove a term when you will NOT be in school, enter four zeroes.


(Note: If you registered at a school and now wish to change schools, be sure you have withdrawn according to the school's established policy.)

To change a code for level of study: If you will be enrolled in a bachelor degree program or an associate degree, certificate, or other non-degree program that requires two years or less to complete, check "Undergrad." If you are pursuing a master's or doctoral degree, check "Graduate Program."

Funding for TAP at the graduate level is no longer available. However, if you have been awarded a graduate scholarship administered by HESC, you must complete the TAP application to request payment of your scholarship.

20. Answer YES if you will be enrolled in one of the following programs:

  • HEOP, EOP, SEEK, or CD.


21. Answer YES only if you will be enrolled in an approved bachelor's degree program that normally requires more than four full years of study for all students to graduate. Architecture and pharmacy are two examples.

 

SECTION B: FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE

Your financial dependence or independence can have a significant effect on your TAP award. We have preprinted answers to the questions on financial independence, based on your age, FAFSA information, and your previous TAP history (where applicable).

22-25. Review the preprinted answers. If all the answers to Items 23 through 25 are (and should be) NO, then skip Items 34 through 50. If any of these answers are YES-or you change them to YES-you must review Items 34through50 and make changes as appropriate.

In addition, your birth date determines your financial independence status. Specifically:

  • If you were born on or before June 30, 1980 you are considered financially independent: skip Items 34 through 50.
  • If you were born between July 1, 1980 and June 30, 1993, your financial independence status depends on the answers to items 22 through 25. See the instructions to these items above.
  • If you were born on or after July 1, 1993, your status depends on the answers to Items 22 through 25. To be considered financially independent, you must answer NO to these items and be able to document that you meet one of the following conditions:
    • Your parents are deceased, totally and permanently disabled, or declared incompetent.
    • You are a ward of the court.
    • You are receiving Public Assistance (not including food stamps, unemployment insurance, or aid as a dependent child).
    • Your family has been involuntarily dissolved, resulting in relinquishment of your parents' responsibility and control.


Documentation of your financial independence will be requested from you, if necessary. The requirement to submit documentation, however, can be waived if:

  • You were married on or before December 31, 2014; or
  • You are enrolled as a graduate student for the 2015-2016 academic year; or
  • You received a TAP award as a financially independent student in a prior academic year.


IMPORTANT: If you are not sure whether financial independence will be approved, complete Sections D, E, and F, and have your parents sign the Affirmation in Section G (see instructions there). Failure to report parental income will delay your award if you do not qualify for financial independence.

26. In certain situations, veteran status can affect your standing as an independent student. Check the appropriate box on the form.

 

SECTION C: APPLICANT/SPOUSE INCOME

Many New York State financial aid awards are based on your family’s income. TAP is based on your family’s total New York State taxable income plus any state, local or federal government pension income, plus any pension and annuity income for the preceding year. If you receive income from a pension and/or IRA
distributions, you may be required to submit additional documentation.
Your NYS taxable income differs from the income reported on the FAFSA. Therefore, if you supplied income information on the 2015-2016 FAFSA, we have done the following on the ETA:

  • If you did not report income, we assumed you did not file a tax return for 2014.
  • If you did report income, we used the federal adjusted gross income (AGI), applying the NYS standard deduction and exemptions, to estimate net NYS taxable income for you and/or your spouse. We also assumed that the NYS IT-201 tax return has been or will be filed.
  • We calculated NYS exemptions from the federal exemptions on the FAFSA by excluding you and your spouse (if any), since only dependent children may be counted as NYS exemptions.
  • If you have questions concerning the subtraction of exemptions and deductions from pension income, call HESC (888) 697-4372.


27-28. Review the preprinted answer, and correct as necessary by checking the appropriate box.

29-30. If you filed a NYS tax return, enter NYS exemptions and income from the appropriate lines on the return, using the following chart as a guide. (If the preprinted figures are correct, you may skip these items.)

2014 Return Type Exemptions Income
NYS IT-201 From line 36 Sum of lines 26, 29 and 37
NYS IT-203 From line 35 Sum of lines 25, 28 and 36


29 and 31. If you filed a federal return ONLY, enter your federal exemptions (Item 29) and adjusted gross income (Item 31) from the appropriate lines on the return. Use the following chart as a guide. (If the preprinted figures are correct, you may skip these items.)

2014 Return Type Exemptions Adjusted Gross Income
Federal 1040 From 6d From line 37
Federal 1040A From 6d From line 21
Federal 1040EZ Enter zero (00) From line 4


NOTE: You must provide your spouse's income if you were married as of December 31, 2014. If you included scholarship or fellowship income in the taxable income on your return, subtract it from the amount entered in Item 30. The income of a guardian or other family member (other than your spouse) should NOT be included. If a person required to report income did not file a 2014 tax return, the obligation to report that person’s income remains. If you, your spouse, or your parents did not file a tax return but were required to do so, check DID NOT FILE ANY TAX RETURN and enter the taxable income and total exemptions that you would have been entitled to claim had you filed a tax return.

32. Check the appropriate box for pension income

33. Answer "yes" if you, the applicant, have dependent children.

 

SECTION D: EXCLUSION OF PARENTS' INCOME

34 or 36. You can exclude the income of a parent because of their death, separation, divorce or if that parent was never married to your custodial parent (the parent with whom you are living). You CANNOT, however, exclude BOTH parents' incomes for reason of separation/divorce. Only the income of the parent who does NOT have custody of you (the "non-custodial parent") may be excluded. If your parents were never married, check Box 4 for the parent with whom you DO NOT RESIDE.

NOTE: If one of your parents is totally and permanently disabled, check Box 3; and, in item 35 or 37 (as appropriate), enter the month and year that the disability occurred.

35 or 37. Indicate the date (month and year) of the death, separation, divorce or disability, if different from the preprinted date. When separation precedes divorce, use the separation date.

38. Annual support amount is support for you only and should not include amounts for other children in your family. Note: If no support is received, enter six zeroes.

 

SECTION E: PARENTS' INCOME

Who Should Fill Out Section E?

If you are certain that you meet the requirements for financial independence (as explained in Section B), skip Section E. Otherwise, complete Section E according to the following instructions:

  • If your parents were separated, divorced, or deceased on or before December 31, 2014, enter only the custodial or surviving parent's 2014 income information.
  • If your parents were separated, divorced, or deceased on or after January 1, 2015, enter 2014 income information for both parents. Only a portion of the non-custodial or deceased parent's income will be used in calculating the TAP award.
  • If your custodial or surviving parent remarried before January 1, 2015, enter 2014 income information for both that parent and the stepparent.
  • If, during 2014, you lived with a friend, relative, foster parent, or legal guardian who was not your spouse, parent, stepparent, or adoptive parent, do NOT report that person's income -- even if that person claimed you as a tax dependent.

 

Filling Out Section E

Section E is similar to Section C. To translate Section C instructions to Section E, simply substitute your parents for you, your, yourself, or your spouse (except where noted below).

39-43. Follow the instructions for Section C, lines 27-32, using information from your parents' tax return. Use federal information only if your parents did not file a NYS tax return for 2014.

44. Check the appropriate box for pension income.

 

SECTION F: FAMILY/PARENT INFORMATION

45. Enter your parents' marital status. If your parents are separated or divorced, enter the martial status of the parent with whom you lived more during the past 12 months.

46-49. Provide the required information for each parent whose income you reported in Item 42, unless you are claiming financial independence (Section B) or excluding parental income (Section D).

50. Answer "Yes" if your parents live in New York State.

51. Report all family members who are full-time matriculated college students and will attend a college or postsecondary school for at least one term of the 2015-16 academic year. Do not include yourself. To see who in your family fits the preceding statement, use the following definitions:

Full-time: enrolled for at least 12 credits per semester or the equivalent (8 credits per trimester, 6 credits per quarter, etc.).
Attends at least one term: enrolled during any one term (fall, spring, summer, or winter, if applicable) from the Summer 2015 term through the Spring 2016 term.
Matriculated: accepted and registered as a candidate for a degree, diploma, or certificate.
College or postsecondary school: an institution approved for TAP, federal education loans, and Federal Pell Grants, either in or out of New York State (EXCEPT military academies).
Family members: parents, spouse, siblings, and children. Financially independent students may only claim themselves, their spouse, and their dependent children.

 

SECTION G: AFFIRMATION

As the applicant, you MUST sign the application; if you are married, your spouse must sign as well. In addition, if you are a financially dependent student, both of your parents must sign the affirmation, whether or not they had 2014 income, except in the following cases:

  • If you are excluding a parent's income in Section D, that parent's signature is not required.
  • If your custodial parent remarried on or before December 31, 2014, then your custodial parent and stepparent must sign the application.
  • If you meet requirements for financial independence (see Section B), your parents are NOT required to sign the affirmation. If you are not sure whether you meet those requirements, include your parents' signatures.


By signing this application, you are authorizing the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to verify income reported on this application and income that you may report in subsequent years on applications for financial aid.

 

Congratulations on choosing a school in New York State--your first step to success!

FOR HELP OR INFORMATION

  • Your most important resources are your high school guidance counselor and college Financial Aid Officer. The Financial Aid Officer can reprint the ETA and Change Forms and help you make corrections.
  • To inquire about the status of your award -- or to ask general questions about TAP and student loans -- call (888) 697-4372, or visit us on-line at www.HESC.ny.gov.
  • For all other specific inquiries, write to: HESC, Division of Grants and Scholarships, 99 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12255