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Financial Aid FAQs


What does "SAI" mean?

The Student Aid Index (SAI) is an eligibility index number that your college’s or career school’s financial aid office uses to determine how much federal student aid you would receive if you attended the school. This number results from the information that you provide on your FAFSA® form. This number is not a dollar amount of aid eligibility or what your family is expected to provide. A negative SAI indicates the student has a higher financial need. Learn how the SAI is calculated.

The college or career school will determine your financial need by subtracting your SAI from the cost of attendance.

The FAFSA Simplification Act replaced the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the SAI. Learn more about the changes with the 2024–25 FAFSA form.

Your SAI will be listed on your FAFSA Submission Summary. Before completing the FAFSA form, use the Federal Student Aid Estimator to estimate your SAI.

How do I qualify as an independent student?

Independence is defined by federal law. A student is automatically considered independent if they:

Independence cannot be granted to a student who chooses not to speak to their parents or if the parent refuses to provide financial information. Additionally, a student is not automatically independent because they have been "on their own" for several years. On a case by case basis, personnel in the Financial Aid office may review unusual circumstances to determine if unusual circumstances exist and adequate documentation has been provided in order to consider a student independent.

What if my family has special financial circumstances?

In some cases the FAFSA does not accurately depict the family's current financial condition. Sometimes certain unforeseen circumstances occur, such as unemployment or major health issues, that are beyond the family's control. Our staff can work with you and your family to determine if the information reported on your FAFSA is an accurate indication of the family's ability to contribute toward educational costs. Under certain circumstances we may be able to use their professional judgment to amend certain data. Documentation will be requested.

Does work study get applied to my student bill?

No, work study is paid directly to the student like a paycheck.

Why is my total "cost of attendance" different than my bill?

The cost of attendance is not the same as your bill. It is an estimate of what your overall cost to attend college will be so that your eligibility for grants and loan amounts can be determined. The student bill includes tuition, fees, room and board, but there are other college-related expenses in your cost of attendance that you may incur that are not paid to the school (i.e. books, transportation).

Are books or other miscellaneous expenses included in my student bill?

No. Books and other miscellaneous expenses must be paid for separately. These expenses are included in your cost of attendance (also called your budget). Your cost of attendance is the amount used to calculate the maximum amount of financial aid that you can be awarded.

Will I lose my financial aid if I withdraw from school?

You should consult the financial aid office prior to withdrawing from school to fully understand the consequences to your financial aid for the current term and also to find out if it puts you at risk of losing your eligibility for future terms. If you "unofficially" withdraw (stop attending all your classes without completing the withdrawal forms), your financial aid may be returned and you could be responsible for a significant amount due to the College.

How does failing or withdrawing from a class affect my financial aid?

Dropping a class after the add/drop deadline could affect your current term charges if your enrollment drops below full time (12 credits). Excessive withdrawals after the add/drop deadline and/or excessive F grades can adversely affect your satisfactory academic progress which could jeopardize future aid eligibility.

When will I get my financial aid refund?

Students are eligible to receive financial aid refunds when the total of their grants, loans, scholarships and payments exceed the amount due to the college. Refund checks are generally processed mid-way through the semester.

Can I use my refund to purchase books before I receive my check?

SUNY Cobleskill offers students early access to their financial aid refunds to purchase books and supplies from the campus bookstore.   

How do parents apply for a PLUS loan?

Parents (adoptive, biological or step) of eligible students can apply for a PLUS loan online at studentloans.gov. Another option is to fill out and sign the Parent PLUS Loan application and return it to the Financial Aid office.

Does Cobleskill offer any scholarships?

Most scholarships are awarded to SUNY Cobleskill students as part of the Admissions process. .

Does Cobleskill offer a payment plan?

SUNY Cobleskill offers a monthly payment plan each semester in Banner Web under "Billing and Payments." 

Find out how to pay your bill here.

What does "verification" mean?

Approximately 30% of FAFSA filers are selected for verification by the US Department of Education. Verification is the process whereby the information provided in your FAFSA application must be verified. Students selected for verification will be asked to provide specific documentation to the Financial Aid Office in order for their federal aid to be processed. All parents and students are encouraged to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool within the FAFSA in order to expedite the verification process. More information about the verification process is available on the Financial Aid website.

How do I get a tax return transcript from the IRS?

Students selected for verification will be required to provide wage and tax documentation to the Financial Aid Office. Using the IRS Data Retrieval tool will eliminate the need to provide any further documentation. Students or parents unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool will have to request tax transcripts from www.irs.gov or by calling the IRS at 1-800-908-9946. The Student Financial Services Office can temporarily accept signed copies of 2018 federal tax returns for the 2020-21 academic year.

When will my payment be due?

Your payment will be due approximately two weeks prior to the start of each semester. Failure to pay your bill or make satisfactory arrangements with the College (completed financial aid deferral or payment plan) by the due date will result in up to a $40 fee to hold your registration. A $30 late fee will be assessed each month thereafter that your bill remains unpaid.

Where's my bill?

Students may view their account detail and billing statements/bills via the secure portion of our website (Banner Web). Students access Banner Web with their ID and PIN numbers (then choose Student Services, then Billing and Payments. SUNY Cobleskill uses Electronic bills and emails notification of semester bills to the student's Cobleskill email address and emails to any authorized payers the student has set up through Banner Web. The bill is based on registration in courses: any change to a student's schedule may affect the amount of the bill. Room and meal plan changes may change the billed amount. Any miscellaneous charges added throughout the semester will change the billed amount (charges for such items as parking fines, library fines, judicial educator fees, Wellness Center fees and/or residential hall damage assessments).

What if I change my mind after I have registered for courses?

Prior to the start of the semester, new students should inform the Admissions Office at 518-255-5525 if you choose not to attend. Continuing students should complete the withdrawal process by contacting the Registrar’s Office in Knapp Hall as soon as possible to avoid/minimize financial liability. Any delay in completing the proper withdrawal may result in additional charges. Never just walk away. You must officially withdraw. You are financially liable as soon as the semester begins. A SUNY refund schedule is in effect to reduce full-time tuition if you withdraw during the first four weeks of the semester. Due to strict federal regulations governing the use and distribution of Title IV financial aid, aid recipients will jeopardize their current eligibility if they fail to complete 60% of the semester. You are advised to consult with a financial aid advisor to discuss your individual case.

Why isn’t my tuition calculated using the resident rates?

Eligibility for in-state tuition is determined by the student’s domicile which must be in New York State for a period of at least one year immediately preceding the time of registration. Your domicile is the fixed and permanent home to which you intend to return whenever absent. Students that have inconsistent residency data, as identified by the Application Services Center are notified by a letter from our Admissions Office with an accompanying Resident Tuition Brochure. Unresolved residency discrepancies will result in a student being charged the out-of-state tuition rate. Your residency status must be proved by submitting a residency application and providing at least three approved types of documents that support your claim. The sole purpose of presence in that state to attend college does not meet your domicile requirement. Individuals who are financially dependent and whose custodial parent(s) lives in a state other than the State of New York are generally not eligible for the resident tuition rate. There are some exceptions to the domicile rule that may apply to military staff and to non-residents who have graduated from a New York high school. Please direct your questions concerning residency to the Director of Student Accounts, 518-255-5539.

My Financial Aid is more than my charges. When will I receive my refund?

Financial aid is applied in a first-in, first-applied order and refunds are not generated until the student’s account is paid in full. Since refunds are not readily available during the first four weeks, it is advisable to have other personal funds to pay for expenses, such as rent if you are living off campus.

Refund checks are made payable to the student with the exceptions of parent PLUS loans. Refund checks are mailed to the permanent home address on file, but may be held for pickup in the Student Financial Services Office for a minimum of 2 weeks.

Note: Refund checks that are un-cashed after one year, are turned over to the State of New York as unclaimed funds. Once turned over, an owner would need to contact the Office of the State Comptroller, Office of Unclaimed Funds 110 State Street Albany, NY 12236; the phone number is 800-221-9311. The College notifies students of un-cashed checks before the year is up, so it is important to keep your address and contact information current with the Registrar's Office at 518-255-5522.

I applied late for my aid. I was selected for verification. What if my financial aid is not approved before my bill is due?

Until you submit the required paperwork to the Student Financial Services Office, your financial aid cannot be approved. You are responsible for paying your bill by the due date, you will be charged a $40 fee to hold your registration. Any aid awarded to you after your account is paid in full will be later refunded to you.

What does it mean to have a “hold” on my account?

If a student has a financial obligation to the College, a “hold” is placed on the student’s records, preventing registration for a new term and the holding of records (including transcripts and diplomas) until all financial obligations have been paid. You can view your hold status in Banner Web. Holds are posted to students’ accounts prior to the start of course selection for the next academic period. If you owe a past due debt to SUNY Cobleskill, there are state debt collection laws that will affect you. See Section 18 Notification for more information.

Oh no! My check bounced. What happens now?

A $20 dishonored check charge is assessed at the time your payment is removed from your account. You may also be charged a late payment fee in the amount of $30 for a balance due. You may also be restricted to future payments by cash or money order if it occurs more than once.

Do I need to register my vehice?

All vehicles parked on campus MUST be registered with University Police and a parking decal must be displayed on the side window behind the driver. Please register your vegicle online. If the vehicle does not have a permanent sticker affixed, a temporary permit must be obtained through University Police. 

 How do I get a copy of my 1098T tax notification?

1098-T information is sent to ECSI and available to families by January 31.  You can access your 1098-T online by following these instructions.


Fee/costs referred to above are as of Fall 2023 and are subject to change.