State Aid - How to Take Control of the Process - Paying for College Without Going Broke - Princeton Review, Kalman Chany

Paying for College Without Going Broke, 2017 Edition - Princeton Review, Kalman Chany (2016)

Part II. How to Take Control of the Process

Chapter 6. State Aid

States sometimes don’t get the credit they deserve for their most pervasive and sweeping form of financial aid: an affordable college education for in-state residents through public state university programs. These programs are still terrific values (as we explored in Chapter Four, “How to Pick Colleges”) and in some cases, the quality of education is at least as good as it is at the best private colleges.

However, it is the other kind of state aid that we are going to discuss here. It comes in the form of need-based and merit-based grants and loans to qualifying students who attend public or private colleges and universities within their own state. All 50 states have need-based financial aid programs for their residents, and more than 25 states now have merit-based awards as well. While some states are richer than others, the amount of money available for state aid is substantial; in some states students can qualify for more than $4,000 each year in grant money alone.

To qualify for this aid a student must generally attend a public university or private college within the student’s state of legal residence. A few states have reciprocal agreements with specific other states that allow you to take aid with you to another state. For example, if you qualify for Pennsylvania state aid, you are allowed to use that aid at any approved school in many other states, except in most cases for Maryland, New Jersey, and New York.

Note: In recent years, some states have eliminated or reduced their state grant programs as a result of budget deficits in the recent economic downturn. For the latest information regarding the availability of state aid you should contact the appropriate state agency (See this page). Be aware that some states (i.e. Alaska, Illinois, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and Washington) award funds on a first-come first-served basis.

Even If You Don’t Qualify for Federal Aid, You May Qualify for State Aid

Because of the differences between the state aid formulas and the federal formula, it is sometimes easier to qualify for state aid. Federal aid is based on your adjusted gross income (along with information about your assets). In some states, however, aid is based solely on your taxable income (the AGI minus deductions) without reference to your assets.

Thus if you miss out on federal aid because you have been industrious and managed to save enough to make investments, you may be able to qualify for state money anyway. In some states, it is possible to own a mansion, a business, and sizable investments, and—as long as your taxable income is within state parameters—still qualify for thousands of dollars in aid.

There are too many states with too many different types of programs and formulas for us to go into each one separately. Suffice it to say that state aid is one of the more overlooked ways for middle- and upper-middle-class families to help pay for college. We estimate that thousands of these parents, under the impression they make too much money, never even apply.

How to Apply for State Aid

Some states use the data you supply on the federal FAFSA form to award their aid. Other states require you to complete a supplemental aid form that is processed directly by that state’s higher education agency.

Confused? Your high school guidance counselor should have the correct forms for your situation. If, for some reason, forms are not available at your high school, or your guidance counselor doesn’t seem to know what is what, contact your state agency (a list of all the state agencies with their addresses and phone numbers is at the end of this chapter).

The only time the forms you find at your high school might not be the right forms for you is when the student goes to school in one state but lives in another. If this is the case, again contact your state agency.

If your family is eligible for state financial aid, your state grant will appear as part of the aid packages you receive from the colleges sometime before April 15. Obviously, unless your state has reciprocal agreements, the state money will appear only in the aid packages from colleges in your own state. Families that are pondering several offers from schools within their own state, sometimes notice that the amount of state money they were offered at each of the schools differs. This might be because aid is based not just on need, but also on the size of tuition at different schools. A more expensive school will often trigger a larger grant. However, if you applied to two comparably priced schools within your own state, and one school gives you significantly less state aid than another, then something is amiss because you should be getting approximately the same amount of state aid at similarly priced schools.

Alternative State Loans

Some states make guaranteed student loans much like the Stafford loans provided by the federal government. These are sometimes called “special loans.” Again, if your state offers these loans and if you qualify, they will appear as part of your aid package.

Establishing Residency in a State

In-state rates are much cheaper than out-of-state rates at public universities; at the University of Vermont, for example, an out-of-state student pays over $23,000 more than an in-state resident. So it should come as no surprise that students have tried over the years to establish residency in the state of the public university they were attending. Until recently, it was much easier for a student to establish residency in a state if he wished to take advantage of the in-state rates. It has since become much more difficult, with the exception of one or two states. We will discuss establishing residency in greater detail in the “Special Topics” chapter.

The State Agencies


Alabama Commission on

Higher Education

P.O. Box 302000

Montgomery, AL 36130-2000

(334) 242-1998


Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education

P.O. Box 110505

Juneau, AK 99811

(907) 465-2962 or (800) 441-2962


Commission on Postsecondary Education

2020 N. Central Ave.

Phoenix, AZ 85004

(602) 258-2435


Arkansas Department of

Higher Education

423 Main Street, Suite 400

Little Rock, AR 72201

(800) 547-8839, (501) 371-2000


California Student Aid Commission

Grant Programs-Customer Service

P.O. Box 419026

Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-9026

(888) 224-7268


Colorado Commission on Higher Education

1560 Broadway, Suite 1600

Denver, CO 80202

(303) 862-3001


Connecticut Department

of Higher Education

61 Woodland Street

Hartford, CT 06105

(860) 947-1800


Delaware Higher Education Office

The Townsend Building

401 Federal Street, Suite 2

Dover, DE 19901

(302) 735-4000

District of Columbia

Office of the State Supt. of Education

Division of Higher Education & Financial Services

810 First Street NE, 9th Floor

Washington, DC 20002

(202) 727-2824 or (877) 485-6751


Florida Department of Education

Office of Student Financial Assistance

325 West Gaines St.

Tallahassee, FL 32399

(850) 245-0505 or (888) 827-2004



Georgia Student Finance Commission

State Loans & Grants Division

2082 East Exchange Place

Tucker, GA 30084

(800) 505-4732


Hawaii State Postsecondary Education Commission

2444 Dole Street, Room 209

Honolulu, HI 96822

(808) 956-8213


Office of the State Board of Education

P.O. Box 83720

Boise, ID 83720-0037

(208) 334-2270


Illinois Student Assistance Commission

1755 Lake Cook Road

Deerfield, IL 60015-5209

(800) 899-4722


State Student Assistance

Commission of Indiana

W462 Government Center South

402 West Washington St.

Indianapolis, IN 46204

(888) 528-4719


Iowa College Student Aid Commission

430 East Grand Ave.

3rd Floor

Des Moines, IA 50309

(877) 272-4456 or (515) 725-3400


Kansas Association of Student

Financial Aid Administrators

Kansas Board of Regents

1000 S.W. Jackson Street

Suite 520

Topeka, KS 66612-1368

(785) 296-3421


Kentucky Higher Education

Assistance Authority

100 Airport Road

Frankfort, KY 40602-0798

(800) 928-8926


Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance

602 North 5th Street

Baton Rouge, LA 70802

(800) 259-5626


Finance Authority of Maine

Maine Education Assistance Division

5 Community Drive, P.O. Box 949

Augusta, ME 04332-0949

(800) 228-3734


Maryland Higher Education


Office of Student Financial Assistance

6 North Liberty Street

Ground Suite

Baltimore, MD 21201

(410) 767-3300 or (800) 974-0203


The Massachusetts Office of Student Financial Assistance

454 Broadway, Suite 200

Revere, MA 02151

(617) 391-6070


Michigan Higher Education

Assistance Authority

Office of Scholarships and Grants

P.O. Box 30462

Lansing, MI 48909-7962

(888) 447-2687


Minnesota Higher Education

Services Office

1450 Energy Park Drive

Suite 350

St. Paul, MN 55108-5227

(800) 657-3866 or (651) 642-0567


Mississippi Office of State

Student Financial Aid

3825 Ridgewood Road

Jackson, MS 39211

(800) 327-2980 or (601) 432-6997


Missouri Department of Higher Education

205 Jefferson Street

P.O. Box 1469

Jefferson City, MO 65102-1469

(800) 473-6757 or (573) 751-2361


Montana Guaranteed

Student Loan Program

P.O. Box 203101

Helena, MT 59620-3101

(800) 537-7508


Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education

P.O. Box 95005

Lincoln, NE 68509-5005

(402) 471-2847


State Department of Education

700 E. Fifth Street

Carson City, NV 89701

(775) 687-9200

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Department of


101 Pleasant Street

Concord, NH 03301

(603) 271-3494

New Jersey

Office of Student Assistance

P.O. Box 540

Trenton, NJ 08625-0540

(800) 792-8670

New Mexico

State of New Mexico

Higher Education Department

2048 Galisteo St.

Santa Fe, NM 87505

(800) 279-9777 or (505) 476-8400

New York

New York State Higher Education Services Corporation

99 Washington Avenue

Albany, NY 12255

(518) 473-1574 or (888) 697-4372

North Carolina

College Foundation of North Carolina

P.O. Box 41966

Raleigh, NC 27629-1966

(888) 234-6400

North Dakota

North Dakota University System

Tenth Floor, State Capitol

600 E. Boulevard Avenue-Dept. 215

Bismarck, ND 58505-0230

(701) 328-2960


Ohio Dept. of Higher Education

State Grants and Scholarship Dept.

25 South Front Street

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 466-6000


State Regents for Higher Education

655 Research Parkway

Suite 200

Oklahoma City, OK 73104

(800) 858-1840 or (405) 225-9100


Oregon Student Access Commission

1500 Valley River Drive

Suite 100

Eugene, OR 97401

(541) 687-7400 or (800) 452-8807


Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency

1200 North 7th Street

Harrisburg, PA 17102-1444

(800) 692-7392

Rhode Island

Rhode Island Higher Education

Assistance Authority

560 Jefferson Boulevard, Suite 100

Warwick, RI 02886

(800) 922-9855 or (401) 736-1100

South Carolina

South Carolina Higher Education

Tuition Grants Commission

115 Atrium Way, Suite 102

Columbia, SC 29223

(803) 896-1120

South Dakota

Dept. of Ed. and Cultural Affairs

Office of the Secretary

800 Governors Drive

Pierre, SD 57501

(605) 773-3134


Tennessee Student

Assistance Corporation (TSAC)

Parkway Towers, Suite 1510

404 James Robertson Parkway

Nashville, TN 37243-0820

(800) 342-1663

(615) 741-1346


Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

P.O. Box 12788

Austin, TX 78711-2788

(512) 427-6101

(800) 242-3062


Utah State Board of Regents

Board of Regents Building

The Gateway

60 South 400 West

Salt Lake City, UT 84101-1284

(877) 336-7378

or (801) 321-7294


Vermont Student

Assistance Corporation

Champlain Mill

P.O. Box 2000

Winooski, VT 05404

(802) 654-3750

(800) 882-4166


State Council of Higher

Education for Virginia

James Monroe Building

101 North Fourteenth Street

Richmond, VA 23219

(804) 225-2600


Washington State Higher

Education Coordinating Board

917 Lakeridge Way SW

Olympia, WA 98502

(360) 753-7800

West Virginia

West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission

1018 Kanawha Blvd. East

Charleston, WV 25301

(304) 558-2101


Higher Education Aids Board

PO Box 7885

Madison, WI 53707-7885

(608) 267-2206


University of Wyoming

Student Financial Aid

Dept. 3335

1000 East University Avenue

Laramie, WY 82071-3335

(307) 766-2116

American Samoa

American Samoa Community

College Board of Higher Education

P.O. Box 2609

Pago Pago, AS 96799-2609

(684) 688-9155


University of Guam

Financial Aid Office

University Drive

UOG Station

Mangilao, GU 96923

(671) 735-2288

Northern Mariana Islands

Northern Marianas College

P.O. Box 501250

Saipan, MP 96950

(670) 234-5498

Puerto Rico

Council on Higher Education

Box 19900

San Juan, PR 00910-1900

(787) 641-7100

Trust Territory of Pacific Islands

Palau Community College P.O. Box 9

Koror, Republic of Palau, 96940

(680) 488-2470

Virgin Islands Board of Education

Box 11900

60B, 61 & 62 Dronningens Gade

St. Thomas, VI 00801

(340) 774-4546