Saving and Paying for College in New York
Facebook icon Twitter icon Print icon Email icon

By Mark Kantrowitz

October 22, 2018

New York offers several college savings, grant and scholarship programs to help New York state residents pay for a public or private college education in New York.

New York College Savings Plans

New York offers direct-sold and advisor-sold 529 college savings plans. The New York 529 plans, which are managed by Ascensus College Savings, provide tax and financial aid advantages for investors who are saving for a child’s qualified higher education expenses. The direct-sold plan, NY Saves, has received Savingforcollege.com’s top 5-cap rating because of its superior performance and low cost.

The New York 529 plans provide a state income tax deduction for contributions to the state’s 529 plans of up to $10,000 for married couples filing jointly and $5,000 for single filers. However, contributions must be made by the account owner (or spouse, if filing jointly) to qualify for the state income tax deduction.

The state income tax deduction is subject to recapture for non-qualified distributions. Rollovers to out-of-state 529 plans are considered to be non-qualified distributions. Under current New York State law, distributions from K-12 tuition are considered non-qualified distributions, even though they are qualified under federal law.

The maximum contribution limit is $520,000.

There is no minimum contribution on the direct-sold plan. The advisor-sold plan has a $1,000 initial minimum contribution, with a minimum contribution of $25 for subsequent contributions.

The direct-sold 529 plan features Vanguard mutual funds while the advisor-sold plan features mostly JPMorgan mutual funds (with a few SSgA funds).

Investment options for the direct-sold 529 plan include three age-based asset allocation options (aggressive, moderate and conservative), 5 multi-fund static options (aggressive growth, growth, moderate growth, conservative growth, and income), 7 individual fund portfolios and an interest accumulation portfolio.

Investment options for the advisor-sold 529 plan include one age-based asset allocation option, 6 multi-fund static options and 16 individual fund portfolios.

New York TAP Grants

The New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), which is administered by the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), provides up to $5,165 per year toward tuition at New York colleges and universities. The New York TAP grants are renewable for up to two years toward an Associate’s degree and for up to four years toward a Bachelor’s degree.

The New York TAP grants are open to New York state residents who are enrolled at New York colleges, including SUNY, CUNY and participating non-profit colleges. To be eligible, students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. They must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale and be enrolled full-time (at least 12 credits per semester).

Part-time TAP may be available to students who have earned at least 12 credits in each of two consecutive semesters and who satisfy the other requirements for TAP.

Dependent students must have family income under $80,000 per year. Independent students who have tax dependents other than a spouse must have income under $80,000 per year. Married independent students without tax dependents other than a spouse must have income under $40,000 per year. Unmarried independent students without tax dependents must have income under $10,000 per year.

To apply for the New York TAP Grant, file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Then click on the “Apply for TAP” link that appears after you’ve submitted the FAFSA.

The application becomes available on October 1, the start date of the FAFSA. The deadline is June 30 of the academic year in which the New York TAP grant is sought.

For more information, call 1-888-697-4372 or send email to webmail@hesc.ny.gov. The status of a TAP grant may be checked by logging into the student’s account at hesc.ny.gov.

New York Excelsior Scholarship

The New York Excelsior Scholarship, administered by New York HESC, provides free tuition at SUNY and CUNY for low- and middle-income students who are New York state residents.

The Excelsior Scholarship provides up to $5,500 per year toward undergraduate tuition. The Excelsior Scholarship is a last dollar scholarship, meaning that the New York TAP and Federal Pell Grant are applied first toward in-state tuition at SUNY and CUNY, with the Excelsior Scholarship covering any remaining tuition costs.

Middle-income students derive a greater financial benefit from the Excelsior Scholarship than low-income students, since low-income students may already have tuition covered between the New York TAP and Federal Pell Grants.

The income limits were phased in over a three-year period, starting at $100,000 in 2017, increasing to $110,000 in 2018 and $125,000 in 2019.

Students must be enrolled full-time (at least 12 credits per term) and earn at least 30 credits per year. The expectation is that the students will be on track to complete an Associate’s degree in two consecutive years or a Bachelor’s degree in four consecutive years. The Excelsior Scholarship allows five years for students in Opportunity Programs and for students in degree programs that normally require five years for completion.

Recipients of the Excelsior Scholarship must agree to live and work in New York state one year after graduation for each year of support.

Other New York State Grants

New York State offers several other state grant programs, most of which are administered by the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC).

There are several awards based on academic excellence.

  • The New York State Scholarships for Academic Excellence provides renewable scholarships of up to $1,500 for study at New York State colleges and universities to graduates of New York State high schools based on their grades on the New York State regents exams.
  • The New York State Achievement and Investment in Merit Scholarship (NY-AIMS) provides $500 merit scholarships for study at New York State colleges and universities to students who graduated with a high school GPA of at least 3.3 on a 4.0 scale, graduated in the top 15% of their high school class, received a score of at least 3 on two or more AP exams, or graduated with honors on a New York State Regents diploma.
  • The New York State Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Incentive Program provides renewable scholarships of up to full in-state tuition to full-time students attending SUNY who graduated in the top 10% of their high school class and who are pursuing a degree in STEM in an Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree program. Recipients must agree to live and work in a STEM field in New York State for five years after graduation.

There are several scholarships for students who agree to work in specific occupations after graduation.

  • The New York State Child Welfare Worker Incentive Scholarship Program provides college grants worth up to the cost of attendance at SUNY for child welfare workers who are employed at child welfare agencies licensed by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). Recipients must agree to live in New York State and continue working for a child welfare agency licensed by OCSF for five years after graduation.
  • The New York State Math & Science Teaching Incentive Program provides renewable scholarships of up to full in-state tuition at SUNY for college students who agree to pursue a career as a math or science teacher in grades 7-12. Recipients must agree to work full-time as a math or science teacher in grades 7-12 in New York State for five years after graduation.
  • The New York State Masters-in-Education Teacher Incentive Scholarship Program provides a renewable, full-tuition scholarships for a Master’s degree in education at SUNY or CUNY. Recipients must have earned a Bachelor’s degree from a New York college with a 3.5 or higher GPA on a 4.0 scale and must maintain a 3.5 GPA during each term of graduate study. Recipients must agree to work full-time at a New York public elementary or secondary school for five years after graduation.
  • The Senator Patricia K. McGee Nursing Faculty Scholarship Program provides renewable scholarships worth up to the cost of attendance at SUNY graduate programs in nursing. Recipients must agree to work as nursing faculty or adjunct clinical faculty in New York State for four years after graduation.

There is a renewable scholarship worth up to $2,000 per year for study at a New York college or university for Native Americans who are enrolled members of a New York State tribe and for children of an enrolled member of a New York State tribe.

There are several scholarships for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans, first responders or their dependents and spouses.

  • The Military Enhanced Recognition Incentive and Tribute (MERIT) Scholarship, also known as the Military Service Recognition Scholarship (MSRS), provides renewable scholarships worth up to the in-state cost of attendance at SUNY for children, dependents and spouses of members of the U.S. Armed Forces or state militia who died or became severely and permanently disabled at any time on or after 8/2/1990 while New York State residents and while serving in a combat zone or during training for service in a combat zone.
  • The New York State Regents Award for Children of Deceased and Disabled Veterans provides renewable scholarships for study at New York colleges and universities for children whose parent(s) served in the U.S. Armed Forces and died, suffered a 40% or greater disability, were a prisoner of war or were missing in action. The veteran must be a New York State resident or have been a state resident at the time of death.
  • The New York State Memorial Scholarship provides renewable scholarships worth up to the in-state cost of attendance for full-time study at New York colleges and universities for children, dependents and spouses of firefighters, police officers, peace officers (including New York State Corrections Officers) and emergency medical service personnel who died in the line of duty in service to the State of New York.
  • The Veterans Tuition Awards (VTA) provides renewable scholarships for up to full, in-state tuition at SUNY for veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who were discharged under honorable conditions and who are New York State residents.

There are several scholarships for children, dependents and spouses of individuals who were killed as a result of specific airplane crashes. See also the World Trade Center Memorial Scholarship listed below.

The World Trade Center Memorial Scholarship provides college financial aid for children, dependents and spouses of victims of the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks. Victims include individuals who died or were severely and permanently disabled at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on flights 11, 77, 93 and 175, as well as people who were injured or died during the rescue and recovery efforts. Survivors are also eligible for the scholarship. To be eligible, the individual must enroll at a New York college or university on a full-time basis (12 or more credits per semester) and maintain good academic standing.

There are also New York State grants for part-time students.

  • The New York State Aid for Part-time Study (APTS) provides up to $2,000 per year, capped at tuition, for New York State residents who are enrolled for at least 3 and less than 12 credits per semester (or at least 4 and less than 8 credits per trimester). Recipients must not have exhausted eligibility for the New York TAP grant.
  • The New York State Part-time Scholarship (PTS) Award provides up to $1,500 per semester for up to two years for students who attend a SUNY or CUNY community college part-time and who maintain at least a 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale.

Other Sources of Funding for New York Students

The FAFSA provides access to the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), TEACH Grant, Federal Work-Study and federal student loans.

The federal government provides the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant for students who are not eligible for the Federal Pell Grant, but whose parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. Armed Forces who died while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11/2001.The maximum award is the same as the maximum Federal Pell Grant, but is reduced by about 6 percent because of sequestration.

Certain education tax credits are available to taxpayers who file a federal income tax return, based on amounts paid for tuition and textbooks. These include the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit (LLTC). The AOTC is partially refundable.

New York students should also use a free scholarship search site to find scholarships for which they are eligible. These scholarship databases will match them to New York state-specific scholarships, as well as more general non-state-specific scholarships.

A good place to start:

See the best 529 plans, personalized for you

×

Deal with student loan debt better.

Sign up for our newsletter.