Financial Aid Awards


Scholarships do not need to be repaid.

There is no separate application process for most SUNY Oneonta and College at Oneonta Foundation scholarships which are awarded by the college using information provided on your admission application and the FAFSA. Other programs may require additional or different applications.



Grants do not need to be repaid. Sources of grants include the federal and state government, SUNY Oneonta and a number of private organizations.

There is no separate application process for federal grants; information provided on the FAFSA will be used to determine your eligibility. Other programs may require additional or different applications.

Grant Programs

Work Study

The Federal Work Study program provides students the opportunity to earn money and gain valuable work experience during the school year.

There is no separate application process; information provided on the FAFSA will be used to determine your eligibility.

Work Study Program


Students and others who apply for loans must always be aware that they are taking on a financial responsibility and have promised to pay the money back with interest.

There is no separate application process for federal loans; information provided on the FAFSA will be used to determine your eligibility.

Loan Programs

Graduate aid opportunities

In addition to federal aid and scholarships, the college offers Graduate and Teaching Assistantships to a number of full-time graduate students and Diversity Fellowships to qualified students.

Graduate Awards

Private awards and scholarships

It is your responsibility to inform the Financial Aid Office about any private scholarships and/or awards you will receive. Private scholarships or assistance which you have informed us are included in your Award Letter.



Financial aid eligibility is need-based. It is the philosophy of need-based student financial aid programs that the primary basis for a student's educational support is the family. A combined effort by the parents and the student to meet college expenses is expected, and the total household resources are taken into account, except in unusual circumstances.

Financial aid is awarded when a family’s financial resources fall short of meeting educational expenses. The application used to determine the family's ability to pay and the amount of assistance the student qualifies for is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Financial Need is defined by Congress as the difference between the Financial Aid Budget and the amount the family can reasonably be expected to contribute. The amount the family is expected to contribute is calculated by the U.S. Department of Education from the answers you provide on your FAFSA application.

What is the student's responsibility?

In determining financial need, prior year (last completed tax year) income and assets are reported on financial aid applications. Students and parents will likely bear some financial responsibility for the cost of attendance.

Congress defines dependency status for financial aid purposes. The FAFSA will walk you through a series of questions that will determine if you are an independent or dependent student for financial aid purposes.

Independent Student Policy

Independent student status is defined by federal law. The law defines an independent student as a student who:

  1. Is at least 24 years old by December 31 of the award year,
  2. Is a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States, or is engaged in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training,
  3. Is a graduate student (pursuing a Master's or PhD.),
  4. Is married, at the time the FAFSA is signed,
  5. Since turning age 13 became an orphan, was in foster care, or was a dependent or ward of the court,
  6. Is currently in legal guardianship,
  7. Is verified as an unaccompanied youth who is homeless, or at risk of being homeless, and
  8. Has legal dependents other than spouse (provides more than half of the dependent’s support).

Please note: The definition makes no reference to the student being or not being claimed for tax purposes by the parents or about any level of student earnings.

Use of Professional Judgment

Federal regulations permit the college at Oneonta to exercise professional judgment in determining if unusual circumstances can be documented to make the student independent for federal student financial aid purposes. This determination is made on a case by case basis.

Student Procedure

If the student is dependent by definition but believes circumstances are present to establish him/her as “independent”, the student can request a review of his/her unusual circumstances by the Financial Aid Office at SUNY Oneonta. Students who are unable to provide parental data on the FAFSA may submit the application by indicating that they believe they have special circumstances. The following steps are required:

  1. Student must provide, in writing, a full explanation of his/her unusual circumstances with specifics.
  2. Student must secure written documentation from at least two appropriate persons, agencies, etc., confirming the specifics as identified by the student. It must be in writing and signed and dated by the appropriate party. One supporting letter should be from a disinterested third party.
  3. Student is responsible for providing full written documentation to the Financial Aid Office at SUNY Oneonta.

What Does Not Constitute Unusual Circumstances

The college at Oneonta maintains that certain circumstances cannot be considered unusual. For example, a parent refusing to provide data, a student who does not want to ask parents for information, a student who is and has been “on their own” for several years, a student who does not communicate with parents. A student who has been independent in past years would not be considered independent unless he/she met one of the conditions of the current independent student definition.

Review of Unusual Circumstances

On a case by case basis, personnel in the Financial Aid Office will exercise professional judgment in determining if unusual circumstances exist and if adequate documentation has been provided. The student will be notified of the decision in writing. Other colleges may not accept SUNY Oneonta’s determination of independent status. Likewise, if another college has granted you independent status, SUNY Oneonta reserves the right to require the above documentation for our review and determination.

Note: Financial Aid Awards are contingent upon the college receiving adequate federal funds to support these programs. In the event of any changes, you will be notified. State and Federal budget discussions may lead to changes in funding levels, cost increases, or regulatory changes.

The Department of Education’s philosophy is that the best indicator of your and your family’s ability to contribute towards your educational costs is your income from the family's prior-prior (2 years prior) completed tax return. Your financial aid is based upon the information you supply on your Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which reflects information contained on your prior-prior year Federal income tax returns.

Occasionally due to circumstances beyond the family’s control this income is not the best indicator of the family’s ability to contribute towards educational costs. Each financial aid advisor has the ability to use their professional judgment to change certain data elements to better reflect the family’s ability to contribute towards educational costs. As a first step, please make sure we have a valid FAFSA reflecting your actual income information. Once the FAFSA is processed, we may make changes based on special circumstances.

Listed below are some common reasons for requesting special circumstances with recommended documentation for submission. Documentation should be submitted with a cover letter that clearly identifies the student’s name and ID number.


The student or student’s parent(s) experienced a substantial loss in earnings due to circumstances beyond their control since the last completed tax year. The loss of employment must be at least 12 weeks.


  • Reason for loss of earnings
  • IRS Retrieval data of actual income (or 1040 tax return)
  • Total estimated current annual income (January 1 - December 31 of current year)

Itemize all gross income earned to date. Include any of the following sources of income:

  • Year to date gross income from wages (recent paystub)
  • Estimate to the best of your ability the gross household income to years end.
  • Disability payments
  • Worker’s compensation
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Alimony
  • IRA distributions
  • Income from business/farm/rental properties
  • Child Support
  • Severance Pay

If this loss of income occurs after November of the current tax year, then income information must be submitted for that year once the tax return has been filed.


The student or student’s parents experienced unusually high medical or dental charges not covered by insurance.


  • Document total medical payments with an itemized statement of charges and payments by hospital/ doctor/dentist during the past two years
  • Document the amount covered by insurance

After your financial aid advisor reviews your special circumstances you will be notified in writing of the findings, informed of any changes we made to your application and instructed on how to proceed.

This list is not exhaustive. If you feel there are other special circumstances please visit with your financial aid advisor to discuss options that may be available to you. We cannot consider debt (mortgage, car payments, credit card debt, month-to-month utility bills) as special circumstances.

Note: Financial Aid awards are contingent upon the college receiving adequate federal funds to support these programs. In the event of any changes, you will be notified. State and federal budget discussions may lead to changes in funding levels, cost increases, or regulatory changes.

General financial aid information

Financial aid is awarded to students matriculated (accepted into) in an approved degree program/program of study based upon enrollment.

Financial Aid is a two-step process:

  1. the eligibility phase is represented by your award notification.
  2. turn that eligibility into cash that you can use to actually pay your student bill and/or be refunded to students/parents for indirect costs. This second phase requires additional steps which typically occur during the summer months. For some types of financial aid, these steps are very easy, others are more complex. Be assured we will assist you each step of the way. Our goal is to convert all eligibility for which you are interested, into real money that you can use to pay your tuition bill and other expenses.

We itemize each of the awards you qualify for and tell you the amount for each semester. You may pick and choose the awards that best suits your needs. Some awards are grants that are not repaid. Other awards are loans that must be repaid and others are work programs where you are paid based on the number of hours you perform work.

In certain circumstances, such as when a student receives additional scholarship awards or becomes a Resident Assistant, we are required to make adjustments to financial aid awards. When a revision is made, we will notify you. Revised awards supersede all previous awards.

If some of your 12 credits are not required for your degree program, they are not degree applicable credits (DAC). Financial aid eligibility for any given semester is based upon enrollment. Enrollment for financial aid purposes includes any credits required/defined by your degree program. Students cannot receive financial aid for coursework that is not required by their degree program.

Financial Aid Budget

The Financial Aid Budget is an average, used for all students in a particular category, of direct costs (charges billed by SUNY Oneonta) and indirect costs (other costs you may incur while attending SUNY Oneonta) associated with attendance for the year. Ideally, your financial aid package, along with your personal resources, will cover the direct charges and indirect costs associated with attending SUNY Oneonta. Your actual costs will vary based upon choices you make for things like living arrangements, dining, type and frequency of travel/commuting, purchase of new/used books, and personal needs.

Direct Costs

These are average charges payable to SUNY Oneonta. Such charges include tuition, fees, and perhaps room and board (if you live on campus). Charges for residence living and meal plans vary according to the living arrangement and meal plans you choose. Your financial aid eligibility is based upon an average, not upon actual charges. If your actual charges exceed the average you must expect to pay the the difference from personal resources or use financial aid designated for other charges. Your financial aid eligibility will not increase. You may be able to defer payment for these charges with your financial aid awards. Those awards are identified above

Financial aid disbursements are first used to pay direct costs. After direct costs are paid any additional financial aid disbursements are refunded to the student/parent and can be used for indirect costs.

Indirect Costs

These are costs a student may incur while attending SUNY Oneonta. Such costs include traveling home when classes are not in session, books, personal expenses, and rent (if you live off campus and this is equal to the allowance you would receive if chose to live on campus). Your financial aid eligibility is based upon an average, not upon actual costs. If your actual costs exceed the average you must expect to pay the the difference from personal resources. Your financial aid eligibility will not increase. Since these costs originate from sources external to the college you will be expected to pay for these products and services, not defer payment with your financial aid.

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