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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Financial Aid?

Financial Aid is money and/or grants provided by the federal and state governments, colleges and private organizations to help you and your family to pay for college costs. It includes scholarships, grants, loans, and employment opportunities.

  2. What determines if one qualifies for Financial Aid?

  • General eligibility requirements include:
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen (permanent resident)
  • Must have a social security number
  • Must have a high school diploma or a general education development certificate (GED)
  • Must be registered with selective service (males between 18 & 26 years old)
  • Must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a student working towards a degree or certificate in an eligible program of study
  • May not have eligibility suspended or terminated due to a drug-related conviction.      
  • May not be in default on a federal student loan
  • May not owe repayment of a federal grant
  • Must be making satisfactory academic progress as defined by the school

  3. What types of aid are available?

Types of aid include:

   ° PELL
   ° ACG
   ° FSEOG


° Part-Time TAP


° State
° Institutional
° College Discovery (CD)

  4. What is a Federal Pell Grant?

A Pell Grant is a grant awarded from the federal government. A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. Pell Grants are awarded only to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's or professional degree (A professional degree would include a degree in a field such as medicine, law, or dentistry). Click here for more info.

  5. What is ACG?

Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) is a federal aid program that awards eligible students up to $750 for the first year of undergraduate study and up to $1300 for the second year. To receive an ACG you must have completed a rigorous high school program as defined by the U.S. Department of Education and graduated after January 1 2005. You must also be a U.S. citizen, studying full-time and have eligibility for a PELL grant. Click here for more info.

  6. What is FSEOG grant?

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is awarded to undergraduate students with the lowest Expected Family Contributions (EFCs) and gives priority to students who receive Federal Pell Grants. An FSEOG doesn’t have to be paid back. You can receive between $100 and $600 a year, depending on when you apply, your level of need, the availability of funds, and the Office of Financial Aid policies. If you are eligible you must maintain enrollment of at least six billable equated credits. Click here for more info.

  7. What is TAP?

The Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) helps eligible New York State residents attending in-state postsecondary institutions pay for tuition. Depending on the academic year in which the student began study, annual TAP awards can be as much as 100% of the tuition cost. Because TAP is a grant, it does not have to be paid back. Click here for more info.

  8. What is PTAP?

Part Time TAP (PTAP) is a New York State program that allows eligible CUNY students to receive TAP payments for part-time study. To receive a PTAP award, you must have enrolled as a first time CUNY freshman in the fall of 2006 or later and have earned 24 or more degree credits with at least a 2.00 cumulative GPA. Your PTAP award will be based on your part-time credit load and will be calculated as a proportional fraction of your calculated full-time award. Click here for more info.

  9. What is APTS?

Aid for Part-Time Study (APTS)-This program provides grant assistance for eligible part-time students who may not be eligible to receive PTAP. Awards provide up to $2,366 per year. To qualify for an APTS, students must enroll part-time (6 to 11 credits equated/billable credits per semester) and not have used up TAP eligibility. Click here for more info.

10. What is College Discovery?

College Discovery (CD) is a special program for educationally and economically disadvantaged students. Students accepted into the College Discovery program and determined eligible may receive money to pay for books and school fees. The CUNY office of Admissions will choose the students to be admitted into the program by a lottery system. For more information, please visit the College Discovery Office on the first floor of the Savoy Manor Building, Room D-101U or call (718) 518-4486. Click here for more info.

11. How much can I get?

Awards for the academic year will depend on program funding. The maximum award for the 2010-11 school year is $5,550.00 of PELL and $3,075.00 of TAP for Hostos Community College. The amount awarded will depend on your financial need and your cost of attendance which is calculated by government standards.

12. How often will I receive funds?

If you received your first Pell Grant payment in the 2008-2009 award year or after you will be limited to 18 semesters of full-time payments (or its equivalent for part-time study). You can track your remaining Pell Grant eligibility on NSLDS.ed.gov (National Student Loan Data Base) or through your Student Aid Report. Students must also maintain a G.P.A. of at least 2.0 and follow the general eligibility guidelines for qualifying for financial aid. TAP will allow up to six payments in a community college to a student who is enrolled as a full-time student, and two more payments in a four year college. In total, a student is allowed eight payments of TAP as a full-time student. The student may use all their TAP payments in a four year college if it was not used when enrolled in a two year school as long as the student meets the general eligibility guidelines.

Can I receive a grant if I’m enrolled less than half-time?

The student may receive grants for part-time study if he/she qualifies.

13. What is a Book Voucher or Pell Advance?

After your tuition and fees have been paid or met, you may use the remaining Pell funds to purchase books or other school materials. You can receive a "Book Voucher" deposited for use at the Hostos College Book Store (Barnes & Noble) or you can receive a "Pell Book Advance" deposited to your CUNY pre-paid card, direct deposited to your bank account, check mailed to your house, so you can purchase your books at any location. To be Eligible for the Pell Book Advance or Book Voucher Students must:

  • Have filed a FAFSA and be eligible for the Pell Grant
  • Have registered for classes and have your bill cleared for the semester you will be attending
  • Have remaining Pell Grant funds of at least $50 after tuition and fee charges are met
  • Complete a Bookstore Purchases Authorization form and return it to the Business Office in the Savoy Building
  • Meet the deadlines

14. What is Work-Study?

The Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program is a federally funded financial aid program available to citizens or permanent residents of the United States. To be eligible, students must (1) receive a Federal Work-Study allocation as a part of their financial package and (2) be enrolled at least half-time or have been accepted for such enrollment. Hostos Community College operates an open market student employment system that allows you to make direct contact with the employer (supervisor). Hundreds of jobs are available in departments throughout the College and at agencies approved to participate in our off-campus FWS program. To apply for a FWS award you must enter “work study” in QUESTION #31 on the 2010-11 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Click here for more info.

15. What kind of jobs are there?

Positions are available throughout the college in various academic departments and offices. There are some positions in agencies outside of the school that participate in the work-study program.

16. How much will I be paid as work-study employee?

Generally work-study employees earn minimum wage which in 2010 is $7.25 per hour.

17. Can I work as many hours as I want?

A work-study employee can work up to 20 hours per week until their approved budget amount is reached.

18. How do I apply for Work-Study?

To apply for a FWS award you must select “Work-Study” in question #31 on the 2010-11 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), where the question asks what type of student aid interests you.

19. What is a PIN?

A PIN is your four digit Personal Identification Number or access code that serves as your personal identifier. Your PIN # allows you to “pre-fill” a FAFSA application if you have a FAFSA account set up from a previous application. It also allows you to sign your application electronically, and update and make changes to your account. Click here for more info.

20. How do I get a PIN?

You can acquire PIN # at the end of your FAFSA application or by going to the “www.pin.ed.gov” web site.

21. What if I forgot my PIN?

You may request a duplicate PIN# at the “www.pin.ed.gov” website.

22. How do I apply for Financial Aid?

The FAFSA application in English and Spanish is filled on-line and available at the “www.fafsa.ed.gov” website.

23. What do I need to apply for Financial Aid?

You will need income information and some personal information to complete an application. A person considered a Dependent student under the Financial Aid guidelines will need to have their parent’s information as well. The year for which you need to provide income will be the year prior to the academic year you are applying. For example, if you are applying for the Fall 2011 – Spring 2012 academic year, you will need to provide all income for the year 2010. The information needed to apply includes, but is not limited to:

Independent & Dependent students:

  • Your Social Security number Your Alien Registration Number if you are not a U.S. citizen
  • 2010 Federal tax forms (1040/1040A/1040EZPDF) & W2 formsPDF for yourself, for your spouse if you are married, and your parents’ Social Security numbers if you are considered a dependent student
  • Unemployment income
  • 2010 untaxed income, such as Social Security benefits, Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF), Veterans benefits, for yourself (and your parents if you are considered a dependent student); Information on Savings Accounts, Investments, & Business and Farm assets for yourself (and your parents if you are considered a dependent student)

Dependent students will also need:

  • Parents' Social Security numbers
  • Date parents were married/separated
  • Parents' 2010 Federal tax forms (1040/1040A/1040EZPDF) & W2 formsPDF
  • Parents' unemployment income
  • 2010 untaxed income, such as Social Security benefits, Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF), Veterans benefits
  • Parents' information on Savings Accounts, Investments, & Business and Farm assets
  • Support given to parent or child from non-custodial parent such as child support or and other income for 2010

24. Can I file if me or my parents didn’t file taxes?

You may still qualify for financial aid even if taxes were not filed, but you must have proof of income in order to determine if you qualify.

Note: 2009 IRS Regulations require that any one person who makes at least $9,350.00 during that year must file an income tax form.

25. What makes me a Dependent or Independent student?

To be considered “independent”, you must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • You will be 24 years of age by the beginning of the academic school year you are applying for
  • You are married on the day you apply for financial aid (even if you are separated but not divorced)
  • You have children who receive more than half their support from you and/or your spouse
  • You have dependents other than your children or spouse who live with you and receive more than half their support from you at the time you apply
  • Both your parents are deceased
  • You are (or were until the age of 18) a ward of court (“Ward of court” means the child’s custody was taken away from their parents by court order)
  • You are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces (Marines, Army, Navy, Air force etc.), including those who attended a U.S. service academy and were released under a condition other than dishonorable

If none of these criteria apply to you, you are considered a dependent student.

26. Do I need my parent’s information if I live on my own or if I’m having serious
           issues with my parents?

In unusual cases, a financial aid counselor can determine if a student who doesn’t meet the criteria to be considered independent should still be treated as an independent student. Note: You will likely be asked to provide documents of proof that support your case.

27. What if I want to add or change schools later?

With your PIN #, you can sign on to your account on the FAFSA website add or change schools on your FAFSA application.

28. What if I decide not to attend school?

If you decide not to attend school, your approved financial aid amount will not be used. Keep in mind if you withdraw a class after the semester has officially begun, you may be penalized by financial aid and billed by your school for a portion of your class/classes.

29. What is a Verification Sheet, ISAR change form/PETS form?

If you receive a "Verification Sheet", it is because you have been selected to have your information reviewed by the financial aid office. This could occur due to an error, missing information, inconsistent or conflicting information on your application. You may also have been randomly selected by the federal government to be reviewed by financial aid. If you receive a verification sheet, you must correctly fill out the information on both sides of the form including the required signatures, and hand it in with all the documents needed to apply for financial aid. Other documents may be asked to be handed depending on the student’s case. Those with special or unusual circumstances should also include documents for proof of their case.

An "ISAR/Change form" is a form used to input any information that needs to be changed or corrected on your application. You must have the names, signatures, and comments (if necessary), filled out on both sides of the form and hand it in along with your Verification form and necessary documents to the Financial Aid office. Do not fill out the shaded area on the change form unless you know what needs to be changed.

Note: The Financial Aid office cannot accept any documents that have “white out” or have been scribbled on. Make sure you read carefully before writing on the Verification and ISAR forms.

To lear more about the Verification Process, please click here.

30. What if I fail a course?

You may not have any penalties incurred on you if you fail a course, however TAP will not pay for a repeated course. Keep in mind that you must meet the academic progress guidelines in order to continue to receive grants.

31. Do I have to apply for Financial Aid every semester?

An application is used for the fall and spring semesters of that academic year you are applying for. However, applications for the following academic year will be available on-line the following January. It is always suggested that you apply as early as possible to avoid long lines that students have to wait on when applying "at the last minute".

32. What if I am in default or owe loans/money to school?

You must be out of default and have previous bills paid in any school in order to be eligible to receive financial aid.

33. Does financial aid pay for continuing education courses?

Continuing education is not considered an academic program and therefore does not meet the qualifications to be paid for by financial aid. However, you may be eligible for some tuition assistance. Click here for more info.

34. Does withdrawing affect my Financial Aid award?

Pell award amounts are based on the amount of credits you have registered. If you withdraw classes during the semester, your Pell award may be adjusted downward to reflect your new enrollment status. All course withdrawals recorded on your permanent record may affect your eligibility to meet Federal Satisfactory Progress. You may also incur penalties If you were awarded a TAP grant. If you are currently registered for classes and are considering partial or full withdrawal, be sure to check with a Financial Aid advisor.

35. What if I need help filling out my FAFSA application?

The Financial Aid office at Hostos Community college can provide you with assistance with questions you do not understand on the application. There also is a computer “Micro-lab” room available for application purposes only. You will need to have with you all the required documents for applying.

36. Where is the Financial Aid office located?

The Financial Aid office is located in the "D" building also known as the "Savoy Manor" building at 120 E. 149th Street at the corner of Walton Avenue, one block down from the Grand Concourse.

The office is located in the lower level, Room D-B112. The Microlab is also located in the D building Room D-B102. The contact number is 718-518-6555.

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37. How can I view my awards online?

To view your awards online you will need the following:

  • Have an active “CUNY PORTAL” account
  • Have your Financial Aid application processed and finalized

If you do not have or do not know your CUNY PORTAL account information, log on to the CUNY website www.cuny.edu and click on “Portal Log-in/Blackboard/eSIMS”.  For help with your CUNY Portal Account, you can also visit the Academic Computing Center (Room C-595, 718-518-6622).

There are two ways to view your Financial Aid awards online:

(1) Using E-FAP:
Go to www.cuny.edu
On the left hand side under “Welcome to CUNY” Click on “Portal Log In”
Click again on “Portal Log-in"
Log on by entering your Username and Password
Scroll down to the “Student Applications” box & click on “eFAP (Financial Aid)”
On the left side bar, click on “Financial Aid” then click on “Awards”

(2) Using E-SIMS:
Go to www.cuny.edu
On the left hand side under “Welcome to CUNY” Click on “Portal Log In”
Click on “eSIMS Direct”
On the left side bar, scroll to “Awards” & click on the desired semester

Note:  eSIMS will also show amounts that were deducted from your awards and show any unused amounts.

Any grants that were recently awarded and/or any deductions that were recently made to your account may not yet be reflected on the eSIMS screen.  Keep in mind any pending changes that might occur due to a requested Pell advance, book voucher, or change of awards due to withdrawal of classes.

You can also receive help with information on how to view your aid online at our Financial Aid Microlab during office hours (Savoy Manor Building Room B-102).

38. What is an EFC?

The information you submit on your FAFSA is processed with a formula that has been developed by Congress to determine your Expected Family Contribution. The EFC is a number which is a measure of your financial strength and used to determine your federal student aid eligibility. Colleges use this number to determine the amount and kind of financial aid package they will offer you.

The formula calculates the EFC by taking into account:

  • Your total family income and benefits
  • Tax-filing status
  • The number of people in your family
  • The number of family members in college
  • Some of your family's assets
  • The formula recognizes that only a portion of your and your family's income and assets may be considered available for educationally related expenses

The Pell award chart represents the Fall 2010-Spring 2011 academic year. The awards for students who will be using Pell awards during the summer 2011 semesters will also be based on this chart. Once you know your EFC number, you can refer to this chart to know how much PELL you will qualify for.

39. What is a Commitment Deposit?

This is a down payment required for students who want to be advised and registered during the early registration period.

Below are some bullets regarding this policy:

  • Applies to ALL Freshman, Transfer, International, and Undocumented students
  • Continuing students are not required to pay the deposit
  • Students must pay the deposit only once unless they plan to transfer to another CUNY college
  • Deposit is Non-refundable
  • The deposit will be applied to their tuition
  • For transfer students, they will also have the ability to be evaluated earlier
  • If student does not pay the deposit, they will have to register for classes during the regular registration period

For more information, contact the Admission's Office (718) 518-4405.
For information regarding registration dates, contact the Registrar’s Office (718) 518-6771.

40. What is IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows you and your parents to transfer tax information from IRS tax records directly to your FAFSA. If you & your parents have indicated on your FAFSA that you have already filed your 2011 taxes, you will be given the option to use this tool when completing the financial information portion of the application. Using this option minimizes errors and also minimizes your chances of getting selected for verification in which you may have to submit additional information to the Financial Aid Office after your application is processed.

Please Note:

  • Electronically filed tax return information will be available online from the IRS site in 1-2 weeks after your return is filed.
  • Data from paper tax returns will be available in 6-8 weeks.
  • There are 2 separate Financial Information sections on the FAFSA.  You will use this tool for the Student Financial Information section and your parents will use the tool for the Parent Financial Information section.

To use this option you must:

  • Have a federal tax return filed with the IRS
  • Have a valid social security number
  • Have a Federal Aid Personal Identification Number (PIN)

Some tax filers may not be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and will have to enter their data from their own tax records.  You or your parents will not be offered the data retrieval option if:

  • Your marital status changes after December 31 of the same tax year
  • You filed married filing separately
  • You filed an amended return
  • You filed a foreign tax return
  • You recently (within two weeks) filed taxes

Using this option will transfer you to the IRS Web site, you will be prompted to enter information as it appears on your tax return.  It is important that you complete this section exactly as it appears on your tax return or your information may not match with IRS records and the data retrieval may not go through.

41. How can I Request an IRS transcript of my taxes and
          my W2 forms/information?


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