This week, Joe Robach helped announce a new tool that will help students and families interpret financial aid award letters from colleges and get bottom line costs before making a final decision. The Financial Aid Award Letter Comparison Tool, available at, is free and safe to use, with no personal data collected or saved.

Choosing the right college is a decision that lasts a lifetime but navigating and comparing financial aid offers can be confusing. This Comparison Tool makes the real price of attending college more transparent so families can know what they’re getting into ahead of time. Joe Robach encourages students to log on to or contact the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation office directly to learn more.

For many families it can be difficult to choose the best college at an affordable price, especially without a full understanding of the total costs—including which types of aid must be paid back. The tool generates side-by-side comparisons, highlights net costs, and estimates the full two or four-year cost of each college.

The report also recommends the potential income required after graduation, based on an occupation chosen by the user, to be able to pay back student loans. This feature not only helps students and their families understand the impact of borrowing as it relates to current and future circumstances, but encourages students to carefully consider their field of study and make adjustments in career or college choices if necessary. To make these projections, the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) uses current data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook to provide median salary estimates for selected occupations.

Joe Robach explained that the office of HESC is New York State’s student financial aid agency that helps people pay for college, and a national leader in providing need based grant and scholarship award money to college-going students. At HESC’s core are programs like the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), numerous state scholarships, federal college access grants and a highly successful College Savings program. HESC puts college within the reach of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers each year through programs like these and through the guidance it provides to students, families and counselors. In 2012-13, HESC helped more than 342,000 students achieve their college dreams by providing more than $979.4 million in grants, scholarships and loan forgiveness benefits, including $931 million awarded through the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).

In addition to this online tool, Joe Robach also announced a series of Financial Aid Roundtable events that he will be hosting in the month of April. The first will take place in at the Greece Community Center on April 10th at 7pm. The second event will take place at the Brighton Town Library on April 21st at 7pm. Representatives from UPromise, NYS 529, NextStepU, HESC and financial aid representatives from a few local colleges will be in attendance as well.