What You Need To Know About Excelsior

New York State has made a big commitment to college affordability through the Excelsior Scholarship program. How does it work? Will it work for you? Let's wade through some of the details below!


What is Excelsior?

The Excelsior Scholarship is a new initiative to remove the barriers of cost to higher education by covering the cost of tuition at New York’s public colleges and universities. It will cover tuition at all SUNY and CUNY schools throughout New York State. Tuition at SUNY four-year colleges is currently $6,470 and $4,366 at SUNY community colleges. The scholarship only covers the cost of tuition, meaning students will still be required to cover the cost of college fees, room and board, transportation, textbooks, meal plans and more. Students at private NY colleges and universities are not eligible but the state budget includes $19 million specifically for tuition assistance for private school students.


Who is Eligible for Excelsior?

Students from families whose gross income is less than $110,000 for 2018. This number will be raised to $125,000 in 2019. Students must be NYS residents, or lived in NY for 12 continuous months. They are the same residency requirements for other NY state financial aid programs. Students have to be enrolled in college full time and earn an average of 30 credits per year. Credits can be earned over the winter and summer months as well. Students will be required to maintain a minimum grade point average and be on track to graduate. That means 2 years for an associate’s degree and 4 for a bachelor’s degree. There is no age limit, but you cannot be in default on any existing loans.


How Does it Work and How Do I Get in on the $$$?

Students will be required to fill out an application that will be developed and managed by the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC). The application is available here. Students will also have to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to see whether they qualify for other forms of financial aid. The Excelsior Scholarship will supplement already existing financial aid programs such as the NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and the Pell Grant. Recipients of the Excelsior Scholarship are required to live in New York after they graduate for the same number of years they received the scholarship. So, if a student received the scholarship for 4 years they are expected to live in New York for 4 years after that or else the scholarship is converted into a loan that must be paid back.


Where Can I Learn More?

Talk to your high school guidance counselor or college financial aid office to figure out if the Excelsior Scholarship is right for you! Here are some online resources to read through:
New York State's Announcement on Excelsior:
New York State's Higher Education Opportunity Program
CNN Money