Financial Aid Office
Miller Building, Second Floor
Information contained in the financial aid section of this catalog is reflective of federal/state/college information and regulations as of summer 2022 and is subject to change.
The Financial Aid Office exists to provide a broad range of financial services, advice and education to our students, their families and the Cortland-area community. Services include all of the functions normally associated with financial aid and a number of additional services targeted both to aid recipients and to those students not receiving traditional need-based financial aid.
The bulk of the office's activity still revolves around grants, scholarships, student loans and Work-Study, but the office also provides information about everything from private loans to general financial literacy matters, including basic skills, concepts and budgeting. All prospective and continuing graduate students are assigned a financial aid advisor.
The Financial Aid Office staff is available throughout a student's Cortland experience to share financial knowledge and provide good-sense answers to financial questions. Students are invited to visit the office and meet with an advisor.
The Basics of Traditional Financial Aid
For graduate students, financial aid programs are generally limited to those students who are accepted, enrolled and pursuing a master's degree or a certificate of advanced study (C.A.S.) program.
The traditional student financial aid programs are awarded based on financial need. Need is defined as the total cost of college attendance minus the amount the family is able to pay. The amount the family is able to pay is called the expected family contribution and is determined based on a formula mandated under federal law. The cost of attendance includes tuition, fees, room, board, books and supplies plus allowances for personal expenses and transportation.
The Financial Aid Office also administers other funding programs that are not based on need, including alternative loans. Each package is created with a focus on the individual student's unique situation. The total aid received from all programs combined can never exceed the student's cost of attendance.
The Financial Aid Application Procedure
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required each year that students request financial assistance. SUNY Cortland's priority deadline for filing the application is Feb. 1 prior to the award year. While those who apply late are still eligible for certain financial aid programs, late applicants may experience delays in the processing and payment of awards.
Students are strongly encouraged to submit their FAFSA application online at studentaid.gov. Early filing of the FAFSA is strongly recommended, but this document may not be submitted prior to Oct. 1 preceding the award year.
The submission of a FAFSA results in the production of a Student Aid Report (SAR) which is emailed or sent to the student's home address. This information is also sent electronically to SUNY Cortland's Financial Aid Office. The Financial Aid Office determines eligibility for federal student financial aid such as loans, Work-Study and other need-based higher education assistance sources.
Types of Financial Aid
There are four basic types of aid programs — grants, scholarships, loans and employment. Funds received from grants, scholarships and employment do not have to be repaid. Most aid programs are subject to legislative revision from time to time, and the descriptions that follow are based on information that is accurate at the time of publication.
Full Time Definition
For all financial aid programs and purposes, full-time study is defined as enrollment and attendance in 12 or more credit hours in a semester. Some programs allow payment of aid for part-time study at a reduced rate. Financial aid advisors have information about the financial implications of full-time study.
New York State Programs
ACCES-VR Grants (formerly VESID)
Information about state-provided financial assistance to students with disabilities may be obtained from the regional office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation.
At the graduate level, students may be eligible for loans under the Federal Direct Student Loan program, Federal TEACH Grant Program, or part-time employment under the Federal Work-Study Program. A single application procedure is used for these programs, and the application data are used to determine eligibility for many other programs.
Application Procedures: Students apply for Title IV Aid by filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA should be submitted for processing according to the directions. A Student Aid Report (SAR) will be available to the applicant from the federal processor and the application data will be transmitted electronically to the Financial Aid Office. Based upon these data, the student's eligibility is determined by the Financial Aid Office. Funds are paid directly to the student's institutional account. Overages above billed charges are refunded directly to the student by the Student Accounts Office.
The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program provides up to $4,000 a year in grant assistance to U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens who plan to become a teacher and meet certain specified requirements. If a student who receives a TEACH Grant does not complete the required service agreement, the grant must be repaid as a Direct Unsubsidized Loan. Students should contact their advisor in the Financial Aid Office for more information. The amount of the award will be affected by federal allocation, cost of attendance and full- or part-time enrollment status.
Application Procedures: Students who submit the FAFSA are automatically considered for this aid source.
Selection of Recipients: TEACH grants/loans are available to students with a cumulative 3.25 grade point average and who are in an approved program of study. They must complete separate entrance counseling for TEACH in addition to an agreement to serve. They must continue to make satisfactory academic progress to maintain eligibility.
Federal Work-Study Program (FWS)
This program provides part-time employment opportunities for students on the campus and in the local community. Students must be a U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizen and are paid as regular part-time employees except that no FICA tax is withheld. Unlike other types of aid, students receive the funds in the form of a paycheck, based on hours worked, similar to a normal job.
Application Procedures: Students must submit the FAFSA application to be considered for this aid source. Graduate students are rarely packaged for Work-Study automatically, so graduate students are encouraged to meet with their financial aid advisor.
Selection of Recipients and Allocation of Awards: Preference in Work-Study positions is given to full-time undergraduate students, but some graduate students also are employed. Students must continue to make satisfactory academic progress to maintain eligibility. Other factors considered by the Financial Aid Office in placing students to positions are student location preferences, class schedule, activity schedule and health status.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans
These loans are the traditional "student loans" that are provided by the federal government and are available to U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens.
Application Procedures: Students who submit the FAFSA are automatically considered for this aid source based on need. SUNY Cortland's financial aid package will automatically include Federal Direct Unsubsidized student loan eligibility. Completion of the Award Package Acceptance Form on myRedDragon is required for loan funds to be processed.
Special Note: All borrowers will be required to complete a new Master Promissory Note (MPN) through the U.S. Department of Education website. An entrance interview also is required of all first-time student loan borrowers. Students complete these requirements on the studentaid.gov website.
Graduate Direct PLUS Loan
Graduate or professional students are now eligible to borrow under the Federal Direct PLUS Loan Program up to their cost of attendance minus other estimated financial assistance. The terms and conditions applicable to Parent PLUS Loans also apply to Graduate/Professional PLUS loans. Students should contact their advisor in the Financial Aid Office for more information.
Application Procedures: Students who submit the FAFSA may be considered for this aid source.
Selection of Recipients: Loans are available to graduate students enrolled at least half-time in a master's degree program. A promissory note is required and students must continue to make satisfactory academic progress.
United States Bureau of Indian Affairs Aid to Native Americans
Application Procedures: Application forms may be obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Education, 849 C St. NW, Washington, DC 20240-0001. The name and mailing address of the applicant's tribe should be stated with the request. An application is necessary for each year of study. An official needs analysis from SUNY Cortland's Financial Aid Office also is required each year. First-time applicants must obtain tribal enrollment certification from the bureau agency or tribe that records enrollment for the tribe. Awards typically range from $500 to $4,000 per year.
Selection of Recipients and Allocation of Awards: To be eligible, applicants must
- Be at least one-fourth American Indian, Eskimo or Aleut;
- Be an enrolled member of a tribe, band or group recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs;
- Be enrolled in or accepted for enrollment in an approved college or university, pursuing at least a four-year degree; and
- Have financial need.
Rights and Responsibilities of Recipients: For grants to be awarded in successive years, students must make satisfactory progress toward a degree and show financial need. Depending on availability of funds, grants also may be made to graduate students and summer session students. Eligible married students also may receive living expenses for dependents.
The Financial Aid Office is responsive to the needs of independent and non-traditional students. If there are circumstances that create additional expenses, such as child-care costs, a financial aid advisor should be consulted.
Financial Independence for Student Financial Aid Programs
The Federal Student Aid program criteria for financial independence may be found in the FAFSA application. By federal law and regulation, students admitted to a graduate program are considered financially independent of their parents, regardless of living arrangements or financial support.
Students with Disabilities
Institutions of higher education are required to consider any additional costs incurred by students with disabilities when awarding financial aid. Students who anticipate such additional expenses are encouraged to consult with their financial aid advisor.
Matriculation and Pursuit of Program
For purposes of financial aid eligibility, a student's status (full time, half time, etc.) is determined by including only those credit hours that contribute to the degree being pursued. While it may be possible to attend additional courses for personal growth and enrichment (outside of those courses required for the degree program), those credit hours cannot be used to establish or increase eligibility for federal student aid, including VA benefits. This provision also applies to any coursework taken abroad through the International Programs Office, and most undergraduate-level coursework taken by graduate students.
Other Sources of Aid
Prospective students are encouraged to explore scholarship opportunities in their home communities. The Student Accounts Office administers private scholarships awarded to Cortland students. Recipients may obtain deferment of payment of some registration charges against private scholarships awarded to them if the the Student Accounts Office has official notification from the scholarship sponsor. No deferments of payment will be made against private scholarships that will be paid directly to the student.
Emergency Student Loan Funds
Loan funds supported by SUNY Cortland Auxiliary Services provide small amounts to student borrowers to cover financial emergencies. These short-term loans are available beginning one week after classes begin. They must be repaid within three months or three weeks before the end of the semester, whichever occurs first, and there is no interest charged if they are repaid on time. These loans are not designed to meet tuition, college fee, on-campus housing and board charges, or the cost of books. Application is made in person in the Financial Aid Office and approval usually is obtained in one or two days.
Good Academic Standing for Financial Aid Eligibility
Grade Point Average
Cumulative Credit Hours
Federal law and regulation require institutions of higher education to establish, publish and enforce minimum academic standards for the continued receipt of Federal Title IV Financial Aid. The Title IV Financial Aid Programs available to graduate students are the Federal Work-Study Program, TEACH Grant/Loan and the Federal Direct Loan Program, including Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and Graduate Direct Plus Loans.
The charts above and the attached text are the published standards for SUNY Cortland for Federal and Institutional Aid. Failure to maintain academic performance in compliance with these standards will result in loss of future eligibility for Federal Title IV Financial Aid, including student loans and SUNY Cortland Institutional Aid, including scholarships.
Maximum Time-frame Standard: Eligibility for Title IV Financial Aid is also limited to students completing their programs within one and one-half times the normal program length. For full- and part-time students, transfer students, students enrolled in dual majors and students with a history of both full-and part-time enrollment, the maximum time frame is reached when the student has attempted more than one-and-one-half the number of credit hours required to earn the degree(s).
Timing of Evaluations and Evaluation Process: The standard measures academic progress at the end of each semester in which Title IV aid is awarded to students (not including winter mini-semester). Evaluation of progress will occur shortly after final grades have been posted by Student Registration and Record Services and notices will be sent out promptly. Attempted credits include all coursework included in students' academic history at SUNY Cortland, including transfer credits, advanced placement credits and CLEP credits.
Earned credits include all attempted courses for which a passing grade has been received (quality points awarded). Grades listed as Incomplete or Late Grade at the time of evaluation will be considered attempted and unearned, but will not affect the grade point average. All other grades will be calculated in accordance with SUNY Cortland's grading system.
Data Corrections: If academic records are changed subsequent to the evaluation date, students may submit a written request to the Financial Aid Office for re-evaluation of the ineligibility determination. The most common situation leading to such a request is the successful resolution of an Incomplete or Late Grade.
Appeal of Ineligibility Decision: A determination of ineligibility may be appealed based on mitigating circumstances. A mitigating circumstance is defined as an exceptional or unusual event(s) beyond the student's direct control that contributed to or caused the academic difficulty.
Appeal letters should be addressed to the Financial Aid Office and should include a complete description of the circumstances that led to the academic difficulty and a plan for future academic success. Copies of supporting documentation also should be included. All appeals are reviewed by a committee of academic and financial professional staff whose determination is final. The committee will report all appeal decisions directly to the students online through myRedDragon.
A mitigating circumstance appeal may not be used to justify a pattern of poor performance or to override the maximum time-frame standard.
Regaining Eligibility: Students who lose eligibility may regain it by successfully completing courses at SUNY Cortland with grades sufficient to meet the stated requirements. Such courses must be funded without benefit of Title IV aid and under no circumstances will aid be paid retroactively for those courses once eligibility has been re-established.
Upon completion of these courses, a student should submit a written request to the Financial Aid Office for re-evaluation of eligibility. Students who have been absent from SUNY Cortland for a period of not less than 18 months may submit a request for re-evaluation of eligibility upon re-admission to the university. Such re-evaluation shall be based upon demonstrated correction of the previous academic difficulty and likelihood of future academic success.
The re-evaluation request must be in writing and addressed to the Financial Aid Office. The request will be reviewed by a committee of academic and financial professional staff whose determination is final. The committee will report all re-evaluation decisions directly to the student and to the director of financial aid.
Graduate student scholarship opportunities are limited; therefore, students are advised to pay close attention to deadlines and criteria. Scholarships often have a financial need component. It is recommended that graduate students file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year regardless of whether or not they are interested in student loans. The FAFSA is the main financial aid application that is required for all need-based scholarships.
Unless stated otherwise, scholarship recipients must minimally comply with the standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) guidelines in order to maintain their scholarships. SAP is reviewed after each semester. Students who lose federal aid eligibility will lose their scholarship as well. Students who lose eligibility should follow the same appeal procedures as outlined for Federal Student Aid.
The following list is complete as of publication of this catalog, but new awards are added annually. Students interested in applying for Cortland scholarships are encouraged to review those listed on the Scholarships website, where application information also may be found. Scholarships are awarded based on available funding as provided by the Cortland College Foundation.
Assistantships and Fellowships
Miller Building, Room 106
Graduate Assistantships by Department
Award: Merit-based partial tuition waiver. Some departments may award a stipend. Assistantships are renewable for a second year.
Eligibility Criteria: Awarded to matriculated graduate students who work as graduate assistants in academic/administrative departments.
Availability: Check in mid-March with the Graduate Admissions Office or on the Human Resources Web page under Jobs for various assistantships. These do vary year by year based on program needs.
Graduate Diversity Fellowships
Award: Merit-based award of up to $10,000 per year comprised of partial tuition waiver and stipend. Amount is determined annually. Annual award covers above and beyond the state and federal aid the student receives.
Eligibility Criteria: Awarded to graduate students who will contribute to the diversity of the SUNY Cortland campus. Students having a diverse background or historical disadvantages are encouraged to apply. Continuation of funding is based on maintaining a 3.0 grade point average and state funding.
Donor-Funded Graduate Scholarships
A list of scholarships for which graduate students are eligible is available on the Graduate Funding webpage.