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College Center



  1. Financial Aid

  2. Student Loans

  3. Significant Financial Need / Unique Circumstances

  4. Student Jobs

  5. Student Discounts


Personal Finance (See ‘Teen Center’ section)

Hi Student!  


It’s exciting to see that you’re starting college!  Or maybe you’re just thinking about it.  Remember that you not only have to choose between classes and meal plans, but how you are going to pay for it!  There are many financial considerations that go into planning and paying for college, and we believe that the best way to evaluate them is with knowledge.      


Studies show that the value of a college degree is well worth the costs for a majority of college graduates.  While earning your college diploma is a sound investment, you still have to make the right decisions.  


We know you can, which is why we compiled a comprehensive, but simple, guide to assist you through the whole process.  This resource guide incorporates information not only from reputable institutions like the U.S. Department of Education and CollegeBoard and a plethora of other private organizations and databases, but from interviews with guidance counselors, university administrators, and other helpful individuals.  And of course, we can’t forget the tips provided by current college students, high school students applying to college, and parents!  We are confident that, with the right knowledge at your fingertips, you will make smart financial decisions.  


For quick reference, click from the ‘Sections.’  At the bottom of the page, there is a timeline with important dates related to the college process.  For more information on any items described in the sections, click the footnotes and/or links.  If you have any questions, do not hesitate to send a message to our ‘Contact Us’ box on the homepage, and we will return your message as soon as possible.  

And remember - Keep it Simple, Students!


¿prefieres español?  The PWFLP recognizes the demand for financial literacy resources in Spanish.  With the assistance of some of our partners, we have translated the College Center resource guide into Spanish.  

Paying for College


A college degree runs a high price tag!    


The average cost of tuition and fees for the 2017-2018 school year was $34,740 at private colleges, $9,970 for state residents at public colleges, and $25,620 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.  These costs do not include the cost of housing and meals (average $11,505), books and school supplies (average $1,235), and personal and transportation expenses (average $3,000), as well as other expenses that a college student will likely accrue.  For most students, a year of college costs $50,000+, and this price is steadily rising.  


The price tag has led to 44 million people taking out loans to pay for college, creating a total student debt of $1.48 trillion.  While the decision to attend college may be grounded in smart financial reasoning, as we learned before, that doesn’t mean that the decisions made when planning for college are right.  According to one study, more than half of these former students responded that, if they were given the chance to do it all over again, they would take “a different course of action” with respect to their student loan decisions.  


When it comes to paying for college, it is critical that you do your research.  This is a huge investment, and like any investor, you need to perform diligence!  The ‘Paying for College’ section serves as the primer to making college affordable.    


There are three forms of paying for college: financial aid, student loans, and student jobs.

1) Financial Aid


Financial aid is a combination of grants, scholarships, and other assistance offered to students in order to help them pay for college expenses.  Financial aid comes in two forms: need-based and merit-based.  


  • Need-based Aid:

    • Need-based aid is awarded to a student based on financial need, as well as other eligibility criteria.  

    • In order to apply for financial aid, students should be prepared to submit:

      • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

      • CSS/Profile from College Board

      • Parents’ federal income tax returns, schedules, forms, and W-2 forms from the previous year.  (If applicable, students’ tax documents.)  

      • ‘Supplemental’ form.  Some colleges request that a student fill out an additional financial aid form when a student applies to their college.

    • ​​For additional assistance in filling out these forms, students can take advantage of several resources.  

      • Guidance Offices:  Students should consult the guidance office at their high school.

        • In Port Washington, Schreiber High School’s Guidance Department organizes a “College Goal Day,” which assists families in accurately filling out the FAFSA form.  (For 2017, October 18th).  

      • Nonprofit Organizations:  Organizations like the National College Access Network offer assistance to students with financial aid forms.  The National College Access Network’s features a “Toolbox,” which compiles a list of tips sheets and videos for filling out the FAFSA form.    

    • Most colleges calculate a student’s financial need by subtracting the ‘Expected Family Contribution’ (the amount the family is expected to pay, based on a FAFSA index number calculated from the family’s financial information) from the total ‘Cost of Attendance’ (the amount it costs for the student to attend school, which includes tuition housing and meals, books and school supplies, and other education-related expenses). 

    • It is not only possible, but likely that the need-based aid awarded to a student will not reach the level of financial need, since many colleges devote a limited amount of funds to financial aid.  This means that the student will be forced to turn to private lenders and other sources of funds (see Student Loans section and Student Jobs section).  Therefore, we encourage students to evaluate schools that “meet full financial need.”  According to 1,388 institutions that submitted financial data to U.S. News & World Report, 66 reported covering full need.  Therefore, students shouldn’t become too fearful of a high sticker price, as there are numerous colleges, mostly elite, that provide full-rides or a price a fraction of the full cost, depending on financial circumstances.  

    • One other helpful tip about financial aid is the ability to negotiate it.  When students review the official financial aid package sent by the college, they should know that the numbers calculated are not set in stone.  If a college provides a student with aid that is not sufficient, particularly at a school that has a reputation for providing generous aid, it may be possible to negotiate higher financial aid.  This likely means that the student will provide the college’s financial aid office with additional extenuating circumstances.  

  • Merit-based Aid:

    • Merit-based aid is typically awarded to a student with special talents, interests, or skills.  If the applicant is particularly attractive to the college, whether it be for high academic achievement or another measure, the university may award the student with a merit-based grant or scholarship.  

    • While most elite universities only provide aid based on financial need, some colleges do provide merit-based aid.  The U.S. News & World Report has compiled a list of colleges that offer merit-based aid.  

    • A more fruitful avenue to receiving merit-based aid is via private scholarships.  Private scholarships are available at the local and national level.  There are a number of methods to finding private scholarships.

      • Guidance Offices:  Students should consult the guidance office at their high school.  Many high schools compile a list of local scholarships that students may apply for.  These scholarships are typically several hundred dollars, but may sometimes be as high as several thousand dollars.

        • Schreiber High School’s Guidance Department has compiled a list of community scholarships, as well as outside scholarships.  The community scholarships use a common scholarship letter, allowing students to devote their time and effort to one letter that can be applied for all the scholarships (letter available in both English and Spanish).

      • Online Resources & Search Engines:  There are numerous websites that compile college scholarships.  Here are several:

      • Network:  Students should think about their entire network!  This includes their parents’ employers, synagogues or church (or other religious organization), local libraries, local clubs (Rotary, Lions, Eagles, Elks, etc.), community organizations, and any other organization!    

      • The National Merit Scholarship Program is one notable national scholarship that most students are eligible for.  During their junior year, students complete the PSAT (Preliminary SAT) test at their high school.  Since the test is cosponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the PSAT also functions as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT), and if a student reaches certain benchmarks on the test, a student is eligible for National Merit scholarships.  For Hispanic high school students, they may be able to compete in the National Hispanic Recognition Program (NHRP).  Even if a student doesn’t win a scholarship or award, the PSAT is a good way for students to prepare for the SAT, since participation helps identify individual strengths and weaknesses and simulate testing conditions.  

      • Note: Students must exercise caution!  Scholarships that require money to enter, or organizations that offer scholarship application services, are likely scams!  In addition, students should not divulge personal information like social security numbers or banking information.  Use common sense! and the CollegeBoard have created guides on how to detect and prevent scholarship scams.     


For additional financial aid programs, see the ‘Significant Financial Need & Unique Circumstances’ section.  

2)  Student Loans


Students loans (money borrowed that must be paid back with interest) will likely be a part of the financial aid package students receive from their colleges.  While a student may be able to borrow private student loans, loans offered by the U.S. Department of Education are typically more attractive.  The Department of Education awards approximately $150 billion every year through loan programs and special grants.  Loans provided by a private lender or the federal government differ in the application process, interest rates, disbursement, eligibility, tax deductibility, repayment plans, forgiveness programs, and other conditions.  For more information about the differences, visit the Federal Student Aid Office of the U.S Department of Education.


Student loans come in two forms: federal student loans & private student loans.  


  • Federal Student Loans

    • The Federal Student Aid Office of the U.S. Department of Education offers federal student loans, which are commonly offered to students as part of their school’s financial aid offer.  Federal student loans typically offer borrowers lower interest rates and greater repayment option flexibility than loans from private sources.  To apply for a Direct Loan, a student must complete and submit the FAFSA form, which the college assesses in order to determine the amount of federal aid the student is eligible to receive.  

    • A student loan from the federal government is known as a ‘Direct Loan,’ which is also referred to as a “Stafford Loan”, and it comes in 2 forms.  As long as the student is enrolled at least half-time at a school that meets criteria established by the program (primarily stipulating that the college program leads to an appropriate degree or certificate), the student can borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education.  These loans are offered to undergraduates at a competitive interest rate of 4.45% (between 7/1/17 and 7/1/18), which are fixed for the duration of the loan.    

    • The Direct Loan may either be ‘Subsidized,’ ‘Unsubsidized,’ or both.  There is also an additional option for parents, known as a Direct PLUS Loan.    

      • Direct Subsidized Loan:

        • A Direct Subsidized Loan offers slightly preferable terms to assist students who demonstrate financial need.  During the time that a student is enrolled in school, the U.S. Department of Education will pay interest on the Direct Subsidized Loan, as well as providing the student with a six month ‘grace period’ when the student leaves school.

      • Direct Unsubsidized Loan:

        • A Direct Unsubsidized Loan is available to all students regardless of financial need.  The loan begins accruing interest when the funds are borrowed.  

      • Direct PLUS Loan:

        • The U.S. Department of Education also offers Direct PLUS Loans, which are federal loans that parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay for college or career school.  Parents may qualify for these if they do not possess an adverse credit history and are willing to sign a ‘Master Promissory note,’ which makes them responsible for the loans.  These loans are offered at an interest rate of 7%, which are fixed for the duration of the loan.  If a parent is unable to obtain PLUS Loans, a student may increase their personal annual loan limit.  


                         Note: the amount a student can borrow each year is determined by the school,                               which calculates the difference between the cost of attendance and other                                       financial aid.  Therefore, a student cannot borrow funds under the Direct Loan                               program that surpasses the cost of attendance.  

​​​                         The following chart shows the annual and aggregate loan limits for Direct Loans                           (subsidized and unsubsidized) (and undergraduate whose parents are unable to                             obtain PLUS Loans).  


In addition to Direct Loans and PLUS Loans, the federal government offers special loan and aid programs for students who display extraordinary financial need.  Notable examples include the Federal Perkins Loan Program and Federal Pell Grants (See ‘Significant Financial Need & Unique Circumstances’ section).  

  • Private Student Loans

    • Private lenders also provide college loans for students.  In general, private loans have higher interest rates than government loans, and may require a cosigner (someone who becomes responsible to repay the money if the student fails to do so), as well as other less flexible terms.  The interest rates vary between approximately 5% to 13%.   It is important to read all of the terms before signing.  

    • NerdWallet has compiled a list of notable private student loan options for 2018, offered by Discover, SallieMae, SunTrust, and other banks. 

3)  Significant Financial Need & Unique Circumstances


For students who display exceptional financial need or other unique circumstances, there are additional opportunities provided by the federal and state governments and private sources.  


  • Federal Government - The federal government offers two programs for students with significant financial need to receive additional funds for college.  

    • Federal Perkins Loan:  The Federal Perkins Loan Program offers low-interest federal student loans to students with exceptional financial need.  These loans are only available to participating colleges, and the school serves as the lender.  The interest rate on these loans is 5%, and the maximum yearly allotment for an undergraduate student is $5,500 per year.  There are no fees in the distribution of the loan, as well as a nine month grace period after graduation or leave of the school for repayment.  Like other federal programs, Perkins Loans are calculated from the FAFSA.  

    • Federal Pell Grants:  Federal Pell Grants are awarded to low-income undergraduate students.  Unlike a loan, a Pell Grant does not require repayment.  The maximum yearly award is $5,920.  For students who demonstrate exceptional financial need, the U.S. Department of Education offers a limited number of Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), which has a maximum $4,000 reward per year.  Like other federal programs, Pell Grants are calculated from the FAFSA.  

  • Federal Government - The federal government also offers several programs for students with unique circumstances

    • TEACH Grant:  The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant is a yearly grant available to students who plan to become a teacher in a low-income area.  In return for the yearly grant up to $4,000, students must agree to teach in a high-need field at an elementary school, secondary school, or educational service agency that serves students from low-income families, and they must do so for at least four complete academic years within eight years of graduation or leave.  There are several other eligibility criteria that students must qualify for in order to receive the aid.  If the student does not complete the service, the grants will be converted to a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, with interest retroactively being charged from the date that the TEACH Grant was disbursed.  Like other federal programs, TEACH Grants are calculated from the FAFSA.

    • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant: The Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant is a yearly grant available to students whose parent or guardian died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan.  The maximum grant is $5,920, and functions similar to a Federal Pell Grant.  Like other federal programs, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants are calculated from the FAFSA.  

  • New York State Government - New York State offers several programs that assist students with significant financial need.  

    • Tuition Assistance Program (TAP):  The New York State Tuition Assistance Program provides grants to New York State residents enrolled at approved colleges in New York State.  In order to be eligible, the student’s parents must maintain a taxable income limit of $80,000, among other requirements.  The maximum annual TAP award is $5,165.  To apply, students must submit a FAFSA and NYS Student Aid Payment Application.  

    • Excelsior Scholarship Program: The Excelsior Scholarship allows New York State residents to attend a SUNY or CUNY college potentially tuition-free.  In order to be eligible, the student’s parents must maintain a taxable income limit of $100,000, among other requirements.  An additional requirement is that students are required to live and work in New York after graduation for the number of years that the scholarships was received.  The maximum annual Excelsior Scholarship grant is $5,500, which will not cover the resident tuition rate charged by SUNY (2016-2017 $6,470) or CUNY (2016-2017 $6,330). Therefore, additional grants and scholarships, including TAP, may help cover the difference, and if not, a loan will be applied to cover the remaining tuition expenses.  To apply, students must submit a FAFSA and TAP-on-the-Web Application each year.  

    • Enhanced Tuition Awards Program (ETA): The Enhanced Tuition Awards Program provides New York State residents attending a private college in New York State an additional grant in combination with a TAP award.  In order to be eligible, the student’s parents must maintain a taxable income limit of $100,000 (2017-18: $100,000 / 2018-19: $110,000 / 2019-20: $125,000), among other requirements.  Like the Excelsior Scholarship, students are required to live and work in New York after graduation for the number of years that the scholarship was received.  The Enhanced Tuition Awards Program allows recipients to receive $6,000 through a combination of a TAP Award, ETA award, and a matching award from their private college.  To apply, students must submit a FAFSA and TAP-on-the-Web Application.  

Most state governments offer financial aid programs for residents.  See the U.S. Department of Education or the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators for more information about state financial aid programs and contacts.  

  • Private - There are several notable private scholarship programs.  

    • Questbridge National College Match: The Questbridge National College Match is a “college and scholarship application that helps outstanding low-income high school seniors gain admission and full four-year scholarship to the nation’s most selective colleges.”  In order to apply, a student’s parents must earn less than $65,000 per year.  

    • Gates Millennium Scholars Program: The Gates Millennium Scholars Program provides minority students with a full scholarship to a college of their choice. In order to apply, a student’ must be Pell-eligible.  

4)  Student Jobs


Students can pursue campus jobs through several avenues through their college's employment office.

  • Federal Work-Study Program

    • The Federal Work-Study jobs help students with financial need earn money to pay for college.  The funding is administered by colleges participating in the Federal Work-Study Program, and the employment emphasizes civic education and work related to a student’s course of study.  

    • A student will earn at least the current federal minimum wage, and potentially more based on the type of work and skills required for the position.  The average reward is several thousand dollars per year for a part-time job.  

    • Like other federal programs, the federal work-study grant is calculated from the FAFSA. 

  • College Employment Office

    • Students should consult their college’s student employment office for additional assistance in seeking employment during the semester.  


5)  Student Discounts


Many companies offer students with special discounts, simply for being students.  The verification process for most of these is simple, which is providing a student’s .edu email address.  

  • Goods

    • Amazon Prime Student: six-month free trial and 50% off Amazon Prime after

  • Services

    • Spotify Premium for Students - $4.99/month with Hulu

  • Travel

    • Amtrak - Save 15% on Travel Year-Round

    • Zipcar

    • Greyhound

  • Electronics:

    • Apple Education Pricing - education pricing on all Mac models and iPad models,

    • Microsoft - students save 10%

  • Cell Phones:

    • Verizon - see your education institution

    • AT&T Signature Program - students are eligible for applicable discounts and benefits on wireless services, devices and more

  • News:

    • NY Times Special Academic Rate - $1 a week for basic digital access

    • WSJ Student Digital Pack - $1 for 15 weeks, and then $4 per month

    • The Economist - $12 for 12 weeks, and then $34 for every quarter.  

    • Time - get a year of digital access to TIME for $19

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