Educational Advisement Frequently Asked Questions


Returning to Learning

What are some first steps for returning to school?

Paying for School

How can employees pay for school?

Where can employees find information about grants, loans, and scholarships that are available?

Are scholarships available for adult students?

Are tax credits available to help pay for school?

How can an employee apply for financial aid?

Non-Traditional Ways to Take Courses and Obtain Credit

Are there other ways to obtain a degree? Most employees don't have time to sit in a classroom.

How and where can a non-traditional degree be obtained?

How can an employee get college credit for training and work experience?

For courses taken at two or more schools, how can the credits be combined toward a degree?

Other

What is a college portfolio?

How is a college portfolio developed?

How can an employee find out if a school is accredited?

How and where can study guides be obtained for NYS Civil Service exams?

How can employees find out about traineeships in their agency?

Who can employees talk to about returning to school?


Discuss these questions with an Partnership advisor at (800) 253-4332 or at advisors@nyscseapartnership.org.


Returning to Learning

What are some first steps for returning to school?

  1. Determine your purpose for returning to school - advancement, new career, retirement.
  2. Identify some career goals you would like to achieve and the types of degrees or programs to help you achieve those goals.
  3. Find a school that has your desired programs and services and meets your geographic and personal needs. You may want to start with a school that participates in the Partnership's Tuition Benefits Program.
  4. Meet with an academic advisor at the school for help in selecting a program or major.

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Paying for School

How can employees pay for school?

Don't just consider how to get money - look at how to save money or to earn college credits for less money. Use the Tuition Benefits Program available to CSEA-represented NYS employees. Some agencies have their own tuition benefit programs, so contact your agency's human resources or training office.
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Where can employees find information about grants, loans, and scholarships that are available?

Find this information through the financial aid office at colleges, in libraries, and on the Internet. Some helpful websites include www.studentaid.ed.gov and www.hesc.ny.gov.
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Are scholarships available for adult students?

Yes. Adult students should explore with their agencies and the financial aid office at colleges to see if scholarships are available. CSEA lists scholarships for members and their dependents on their website: https://cseany.org/ click on For Members, and then under the heading Test Prep/Career Services, click on Education Opportunities. Scholarships can also be researched at local public libraries and on the Internet (e.g. www.fastweb.com, www.collegeboard.com). (See Education Guide 5: Scholarships)
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Are tax credits available to help employees pay for school?

Yes! Tax credits are available for both federal and state taxes. If you, your spouse, and/or a dependent are currently taking college courses or other post-secondary training, you may benefit from two federal tax relief programs: The American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit; and a New York State tax credit: The College Tuition Credit. These tax credit programs can reduce the amount of taxes you may have to pay. You can find more information on tax credits from Education Guide 4: Tax Credits for Education.
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How can an employees apply for financial aid?

Employees should apply for financial aid by completing and filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA may be completed and filed online at www.fafsa.ed.gov; paper applications may be requested by calling (800) 433-3243. Employees should consult with their colleges for more information about financial aid.
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Non-Traditional Ways to Take Courses and Obtain Credit

Are there other ways to obtain a degree? Most employees don't have time to sit in a classroom.

Yes. Online programs, independent study with faculty mentors, credit-by-exam programs, and external degree programs are alternative methods for obtaining college credit. For online programs at SUNY schools, visit Open SUNY at www.open.suny.edu. Many colleges today offer online courses and degrees, so consult with your college about their online programs.

Obtain credit by taking exams through College Level Examination Program (CLEP), Dantes Subject Standardized Test (DSST), Excelsior College, and Thomas Edison College Examination Program (TECEP). The Partnership's Tuition Benefits Program will reimburse employees for these exams. Call at (800) 253-4332 or (518) 486-7814 or email advisors@nyscseapartnership.org or visit Education Guide 3: Credit-by-Examination Programs.
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How and where can a non-traditional degree be obtained?

Consider the following three non-traditional schools that participate in the Partnership's Tuition Benefit Program:

How can an employee get college credit for training and work experience?

Some schools grant college credit if learning acquired on the job can be demonstrated as college-level learning. Develop a college portfolio to document significant learning in subject areas. Taking a college-level exam is another way to document college-level learning.
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For courses taken at two or more schools, how can credits be combined towards a degree?

Assemble all of your transcripts before showing them to a prospective college. Generally, for a first meeting with someone from the college, transcripts do not have to be official. To become an effective consumer, find out which college will give you the best deal, taking into consideration tuition and the number of credits that can be transferred. Sometimes non-traditional schools such as Excelsior College (www.excelsior.edu) and SUNY Empire State College (www.esc.edu) are more flexible in the number of transfer credits they will accept.
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What is a college portfolio?

A portfolio is a written compilation of autobiographical information; statements about the type, method, and length of your learning experiences, and examples of work you completed during those experiences; it could include certificates of completed training.
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How is a college portfolio developed?

Some colleges offer a portfolio course that serves as an aid to creating a portfolio for an evaluation. Colleges may also have their own prior learning application forms with instructions for the content of the portfolio. The portfolio is evaluated by the faculty of the school granting credit. The college awards the credits to the student.
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How can an employee find out if a school is accredited?

The college's website and/or catalog will usually contain a list of its accreditations. For non-traditional schools, visit Accredited Online at http://www.accreditedonlinecolleges.org/. Also, look up institutional accreditations at the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (www.msche.org).
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How and where can study guides be obtained for NYS Civil Service exams?

Civil Service test study guides are available, for purchase, at the CSEA Work Institute (518) 782-4427 or (866) 478-5548. Some public libraries and some local CSEA presidents may also have study guides. Additional information on test guides and resource booklets is available at http://www.cs.ny.gov/testing/localtestguides.cfm.
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How can employees find out about traineeships in their agency?

Consult with the agency's human resources and/or training office. For traineeships that exist in other agencies, visit the NYS Department of Civil Service website at www.cs.ny.gov or contact the human resources agency at the agency of interest.
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Who can employees talk to for more details about returning to school?

Call the Partnership at (800) 253-4332 or (518) 486-7814 or email an advisor at advisors@nyscseapartnership.org. Advisors can help with many topics related to taking courses or getting degrees. Employees should also speak with an advisor at the school they are interested in attending.
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Updated: September 9, 2016