Students who live in New York state and attend in-state institutions of higher learning may qualify for federal and state tuition grants. Both the federal Pell Grant and the New York Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) grants are based on financial need. However, the criteria for these grants differs, so it's possible that a New York student may be eligible for one grant and not the other.
Federal Pell Grants
The Pell Grant is named after the late Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell. For the 2011 to 2012 academic year, eligible students may receive up to $5,550, depending on tuition at the individual institution of higher learning, financial need, and full- or part-time attendance status. Enrolled New York students under age 24 who lost a parent or guardian in the U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan or Iraq automatically qualify for the highest Pell award.
Tuition Assistance Program
For the 2011 to 2012 academic year, New York State's TAP program awards up to $5,000 per year for students demonstrating financial need. Part-time TAP grants are available for students enrolled in the the City University of New York (CUNY) system, the State University of New York (SUNY) system, and independent, not-for-profit, post-secondary educational institutions. All eligible students must be enrolled in a matriculated program and be in good academic standing as determined by each school.
Before applying for either the Pell or TAP awards, students must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine eligibility. New York students must specify state school when filling out the application. FAFSA must be filed annually for award consideration. Make sure the FAFSA is filed by all applicable deadlines.
Other Federal Grants
In addition to the Pell and TAP grants, eligible New York students can fund their education with other federal awards. Students with very low incomes may qualify for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, which awards between $100 and $4,000 for academic year 2011 to 2012. Freshmen and sophomore students who attended "rigorous secondary school programs of study" may qualify for the Academic Competitiveness Grant, which pays $750 for the initial year and $1,300 for the second year. Juniors and seniors majoring in fields such as technology, engineering and science may apply for the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grant, which offers awards of $4,000 each year.