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Need Help Paying for College?

Financial aid is assistance that the College, state and federal governments makes available to eligible students to help them meet their educational expenses.  Students who think they will have difficulty meeting the total cost of going to college should apply for financial aid.  Most of the College financial aid is awarded based on financial need, which is defined as the cost of college minus the Expected Family Contribution as determined by the student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  In many instances, Suffolk County Community College is able to meet the student's full financial need with grants that do not have to be repaid.

There are many sources of aid available to students attending Suffolk. Federal Title IV Financial Aid includes; Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Federal Work Student and William D. Ford Direct Loans. Financial Aid can also include scholarships and other employment opportunities. State aid includes Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and Aid for Part-Time Study (APTS).

Also, do not forget about the various federal and state tax deductions and saving incentives available for attending college; and the benefits available if you are a veteran.

For more information select the tabs below:

American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC)

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), more parents and students will qualify for the American Opportunity Tax Credit to help pay for college expenses.

The American Opportunity Tax Credit is a modification of the existing Hope Credit. The AOTC makes credit available to a broader range of taxpayers, including many with higher incomes and those who owe no tax. It also adds required course materials to the list of qualifying expenses and allows the credit to be claimed for four post-secondary education years instead of two. Many of those eligible will qualify for the maximum annual credit of $2,500 per student.

The full credit is available to individuals, whose modified adjusted gross income is $80,000 or less, or $160,000 or less for married couples filing a joint return. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with incomes above these levels. Unlike the other education tax credits, the American opportunity tax credit includes expenses for course-related books, supplies and equipment that are not necessarily paid to the educational institution. It also differs from the Hope scholarship credit because it allows the credit to be claimed for four years of post-secondary education instead of two.

It is a tax credit of up to $2,500 of the cost of tuition, fees and course materials paid during the taxable year. Also, 40% of the credit (up to $1,000) is refundable. This means you can get it even if you owe no tax. For the American opportunity tax credit, qualified expenses have been expanded to include expenditures for course materials, as well as tuition and required fees. For this purpose, the term "course materials" means books, supplies and equipment needed for a course of study whether or not the materials are purchased from the educational institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 extended the AOTC for five years through December 2017. If you still have questions about the American Opportunity Tax Credit, these questions and answers might help.

Lifetime Learning Credit

The lifetime learning credit helps parents and students pay for post-secondary education.

For the tax year, you may be able to claim a lifetime learning credit of up to $2,000 for qualified education expenses paid for all students enrolled in eligible educational institutions. There is no limit on the number of years the lifetime learning credit can be claimed for each student. However, a taxpayer cannot claim both the American Opportunity Credit and Lifetime Learning Credits for the same student in one year. Thus, the Lifetime Learning Credit may be particularly helpful to graduate students, students who are only taking one course and those who are not pursuing a degree.

Generally, you can claim the lifetime learning credit if all three of the following requirements are met:

  1. You pay qualified education expenses of higher education.
  2. You pay the education expenses for an eligible student.
  3. The eligible student is yourself, your spouse or a dependent for which you claim an exemption on your tax return.

If you pay qualified education expenses for more than one student in the same year, you can choose to take credits on a per-student, per-year basis. This means that, for example, you can claim the American Opportunity Credit for one student and the Lifetime Learning Credit for another student in the same year.

529 Plan (New York Saves)

New York, like most states offers a 529 Plan which is designed to assist people in saving for college costs. The plan allows you to contribute funds to an account for a beneficiary for educational related expenses, including tuition and fees and certain room and board cost. The funds are managed by Vanguard, and the account owner can choose from a range of investment options.

There are numerous tax benefits available to plan participants. The earnings grow federally tax deferred. Qualified withdrawals are federally tax-free. New York State taxpayers may be eligible to deduct up to $5,000 in annual contributions ($10,000 for married filers) on their New Your State tax return. Additional information is available on their website at

Federal Work Study

  • Hourly wage currently ranges between $13.00 to $13.50 per hour
  • Provides part-time employment during the academic year
  • Jobs may be on campus or at off-campus locations that provide public service to our community
  • Students may tutor in elementary schools through the American Reads Program

Part-Time Jobs on Campus

  • Some part-time jobs are available on campus through various academic departments
  • These jobs are not based on a student's financial need
  • Information on full-time, part-time, summer and seasonal employment is available at Career Services

Pell Grant

  • Range from $672 to $6,495 for the 2021-2022 academic year
  • Must demonstrate financial need
  • Amount of grant based on income, assets, family size, family members in college and enrollment status
  • Available to students taking at least three credits in degree or certificate program
  • For summer study awards are determined on remaining eligibility from the previous fall and spring term
  • There is a lifetime limit of 12 semesters of Pell Grant eligibility
  • Disbursements for Books and Supplies:
    • Students who receive a Pell Grant in excess of tuition and fees may utilize a school credit in the campus book store. If a student does not utilize the school credit a refund will be sent directly to the student. A student can opt out of this credit by notifying the campus Financial Aid Office in writing. 

Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)

  • Annual awards range to $5,665 per year
  • Students must be taking at least 12 credits per semester, except students with disabilities who may receive a prorated award for less than 12 credits
  • Eligibility is determined by the family's New York State Net Taxable Income of the prior year (up to $80,000)
  • Part-time TAP is available to students with disabilities. You must be a New York State resident enrolled for 3-11 credits and meet the criteria for the American with Disabilities Act (ADA)

NYS Excelsior Scholarship

  • Annual award up to $5,500 minus any amounts received from TAP, Pell, and other grants and scholarships.
  • Students must be taking at least 12 college level credits per semester, except students with disabilities who may receive a prorated award for less than 12 credits
  • Students must earn at least 30 college level credits each year applicable toward his or her degree program
  • Students must be on track to graduate on time with an Associate Degree in two years or a Bachelor's Degree in four years
  • Be a New York State resident whose family household adjusted gross income (as filed on your 2017 federal tax return) does not exceed $125,000 for the 2019-2020 academic year

Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)

  • Awards range from $100 to $2,000 per academic year
  • Students must demonstrate exceptional financial need
  • Generally students must be taking at least six credits per semester

Aid for Part-Time Study (APTS)

  • Awards range from $100 to $1,000 per semester
  • Students must be enrolled for between 3-11 credits, and must take at least one 3-credit college level course
  • Eligibility is determined by the family's New York State Net Taxable Income for the prior year

NYS Part-time Scholarship (PTS)

  • Award covers the cost of 6 credit hours or $1,500 per term, whichever is less
  • Students must be enrolled in at least 6 but less than 12 credits; except students with disabilities who may be enrolled in for 3 credits
  • Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher
  • Recipients are entitled to award payments for not more than four consecutive academic semesters

William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program

  • Undergraduates may borrow up to $3,500 per year as freshmen and $4,500 for sophomore year (must have completed at least 32 credits at Suffolk County Community College)
    Note: Additional unsubsidized loan funds are available upon review by the campus Financial Aid Office.
  • Loans proceeds are disbursed in two installments to the college during the course of the semester, summer or academic year for which you are borrowing.
  • The federal government makes subsidized and unsubsidized educational loans available to students. 
  • Subsidized loans are interest-free while the borrower is in school. 
  • Unsubsidized loans are available to all students (interest accrues when the loan is received)
  • Loan repayment begins six months after a borrower graduates or ceases attending less than half time.
  • For more information visit

Federal Parent Loan (PLUS)

  • Parents of a dependent student enrolled at least half-time can borrow the cost of the student’s education less any financial aid awarded
  • Interest accrues when the loan is received
  • Repayment begins within 60 days of the loan disbursement
  • Parents and student must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine what other types of federal aid may be available
  • After student has received the results of the FAFSA, student must file the PLUS Loan Request

Exit Interview

Upon completing your studies or ceasing half-time enrollment, you must complete an exit interview. This may be done at or in person at your campus financial aid office. The exit interview covers:

  • average anticipated monthly repayment amounts
  • repayment plan options
  • options to prepay or pay on shorter schedule
  • the seriousness and importance of the student’s repayment obligation
  • terms and conditions for forgiveness or cancellation
  • rights and responsibilities of students under Title IV, HEA loan programs
  • terms and conditions for deferment or forbearance
  • consequences of default
  • options and consequences of loan consolidation
  • tax benefits available to borrowers

If you encounter a problem in loan collection or other matters, please be aware that the U.S. Department of Education has established the FSA Ombudsman for student loan borrowers. This office may be contacted at:

U.S. Department of Education
FSA Ombudsman
830 First Street, N.E.
Fourth Floor
Washington, DC 20202-5144
Phone: (877) 557-2575
Fax: (202) 275-0549