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New York State Financial Aid FAQs


Can I ask questions regarding NYS Financial Aid on a student's behalf? 

No, due to FERPA regulations, we can only discuss eligibility for NYS Financial Aid with the student directly. Students can email us from their SBU email account, call, or visit the Registrar’s Office in person to address any questions or concerns. If a FERPA release form is submitted to the Registrar’s Office by the student, we can release information to the person/s listed on the form. More information about FERPA can be found here:   


Am I eligible for NYS Financial Aid if I did not graduate from a high school in the United States?  

In order to be eligible for New York State Financial Aid you must have graduated from High School in the United States, earned a high school equivalency diploma (GED), have an Associate’s Degree from an accredited United States College or passed a federally approved Ability to Benefit Exam as defined by the Commissioner of the State Education Department. This requirement must be met by the add/drop deadline of the semester you are seeking aid. 

 This requirement can also be met by having completed minimally 24 college credits from a United States college (You must have completed with a C or higher, 6 credits in English Language Arts, 3 credits in Math, 3 credits in Natural Science, 3 Credits in Social Science, 3 credits in Humanities and 6 credits in your degree program (major) as determined by the University in which you are seeking the aid). 


Do I need to have a declared major on record to be eligible for NYS Financial Aid?

 Students must declare a major by their junior year (57 completed credits or higher, including transfer, AP and test credits); General and Area of Interest are NOT valid majors.

 Note: For the STEM scholarship, the major declared must be a NYS STEM approved major. A complete list of STEM approved majors can be found here:


Will changing my major impact my NYS Financial Aid eligibility?

 For TAP and NYS grants and/or scholarships, changing a major means that your eligibility for the semester will be reviewed based on the newly declared major effective for the given semester.

 For Excelsior, the same applies, however, your entire college record prior to the given semester will also be evaluated. The credits from prior semesters must be evaluated against the newly declared major to see if credit requirements are still being met and a student is still on track to graduate within 4 years. 


Can I be approved for the full-time load requirement if I am not enrolled in at least 12 degree applicable credits?

 No, students must enroll in a minimum of 12 credits that are ALL applicable to their degree, primary declared major only, SBC, DEC and skill requirements or elective credit pool if available. Courses that are for minors, specializations or concentrations may ONLY be counted if the primary major requires completion of one or you have elective credit room. The Excelsior Scholarship allows courses towards a second major to be counted towards full-time load as well.

The only exception to this rule is in a student’s final term (must have applied for graduation) they must be enrolled in 12 credits but only 1 credit needs to be applicable to the degree.

In a student’s prior to final term, they must be enrolled in 12 credits, but only 6 credits need to be applicable to the degree.

You can view the TAP/Excelsior Certification Summary Pages on SOLAR 24-48 hours after registration to see a list of which courses/credits are degree applicable and which are not. This information can also be viewed on Degree Works to see specifically where each course is applying towards your degree. Additionally, students can meet with an academic advisor to discuss scheduling courses to satisfy the full-time load requirement.

For a list of advising offices, please visit:


Are credits for my second major considered degree applicable for the full-time load requirement?

No, For TAP and NYS grants and/or scholarships, credits that apply only to a second major will not count unless your first major requires the completion of a second major in order to graduate.

ONLY the Excelsior Scholarship allows credits towards completion of a second major to count towards the full-time load requirement.


Do credits for my minor, specialization or concentration count towards the full-time load requirement?

No. Credits that apply only to a minor, specialization or concentration will not count unless your first major requires the completion of one in order to graduate.  For Excelsior they will count if the primary or second major require completion of one to graduate.


Do courses I am taking as pre-requisites to other required courses count towards the full time load requirement?

No, courses that are prerequisites to courses required for your degree are not considered towards full-time load.  


Do credits I am taking for an intended future major count for the current semester’s full-time load requirement?

No. Credits being considered must apply to the current major on record for the semester being reviewed for certification. Please see the major declaration deadlines for each semester on the academic calendar.


I plan on retaking a course, will the credits count toward the full-time load requirement?

If it is required that you retake a course in order to complete a necessary degree requirement, these credits will be considered. However, if you retake a course that is not needed or one in which you received a grade of C or higher previously, (transfer, AP and test credits included) those credits will not be included as part of the 12 credit minimum requirement. 


Can I make changes to my schedule after the add/drop deadline to be in compliance for the 12 degree applicable credits?

No. Although you can petition to make changes to your schedule after the add/drop deadline for each semester, eligibility is reviewed with the schedule that was in place as of the add/drop deadline date. Please view the academic calendar each semester to see appropriate deadlines.


Does receiving a P or W grade in a degree applicable course impact my NYS Financial Aid eligibility?

It could. Although receiving a P or W grade would not impact the current semester that may have already been certified, it can make a student ineligible for TAP/Scholarships for the following semester. A percentage of 12 degree applicable credits must be pursued each semester without W or P grades. For more specific information, please visit or contact our office.


How do I know which credits are degree applicable?

There is a TAP Certification Summary page as well as an Excelsior Certification Summary page available on SOLAR. These pages will list all degree applicable credits as well as other eligibility requirements. Please allow 24-48 hours for credits to display after course registration or changes.


I believe there is a course missing from the TAP/Excelsior Certification Summary page. What should I do?

If you believe that a course should be considered degree applicable but it is not appearing as such on Degree Works and the TAP/Excelsior Certification Summary pages, please reach out to your major department. Your department can request to post an exception/correction to Degree Works (if appropriate) and if approved, this would be reflected on your Degree Works audit as well updated on the TAP/Excelsior Certification Summary pages 24-48 hours after processing. We encourage these issues to be addressed prior to the add/drop deadline to prevent a delay in certification.


Can I be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship if I am not on track to graduate within 4 years of my first semester attending college?

 No. To be eligible for Excelsior, a student must be on track to graduate within 4 years of beginning their college career.


If I do not meet the cumulative degree applicable credit requirement for Excelsior at the end of an academic year evaluation, can I regain eligibility?

No. If the credit requirement is not met, eligibility for the Excelsior Scholarship cannot be regained.


Can I take a semester off and still be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship?

A student would not be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship if there is or was any break in attendance. 


Is the Excelsior Scholarship offered for a summer or winter semester?

No. Excelsior is only available for fall and spring semesters, if eligible.