Excelsior Scholarship FAQs Most Sought After by Students

The Excelsior Scholarship provides tuition awards to eligible students attending New York State’s public colleges and universities (SUNY and CUNY). To find out more about this college funding scheme, consider some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Excelsior Scholarship in the following explanation.

Excelsior Scholarship FAQs
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1. What is Excelsior Scholarship?

The provision of free tuition to students attending either a State University of New York (SUNY) or a New York City University (CUNY) university is a New York state financial assistance program. SUNY Empire State College supports the participation of its graduates and prospective students, whether they are qualified.

2. Who made the Excelsior Scholarship?

On April 8, 2017, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo revealed that the Excelsior Scholarship, a first-of-its-kind statewide initiative, will offer tuition-free education for families up to $125,000 a year at New York’s public colleges and universities, which was included in the FY 2018 Budget Agreement.

3. Who qualifies for the Excelsior Scholarship?

You will be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship whether you are an undergraduate student who is a U.S. resident or qualifying noncitizen living in New York State for one year before admission and your family’s adjusted gross income (as filed on the 2016 federal tax returns) does not exceed $110,000 and you receive thirty (30) credits a year. You will be eligible to attend CUNY tuition free for the 2020-21 academic year with the Excelsior Scholarship if you fulfill any of these criteria and there is funding available.

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4. How many people get the Excelsior Scholarship?

In 2017-18, the Excelsior Scholarship program awarded 20,086 scholarships, 3.2 percent of New York’s 633,543 undergraduate graduates. Just 20.7% of all state-wide scholarship applicants are accepted at CUNY, while CUNY students make up 38% of all state-wide undergraduate enrolment.

5. How much does the Excelsior Scholarship cover?

A beneficiary of an Excelsior Scholarship will earn up to $5,500 from the Excelsior Scholarship, minus the amount earned for TAP, Pell, New York City Merit Scholarship or other scholarships. The rest of the tuition fee will be compensated by a tuition allowance available by New York City University (CUNY). The aim of the Excelsior Scholarship is to support all existing assistance programs, including but not limited to TAP, PELL, and SUNY / CUNY Tuition Credit. The Excelsior Scholarship also provides applicants with assistance in meeting the tuition gaps and making college enrollment at the prestigious public colleges in New York free.

6. Which colleges accept the Excelsior Scholarship?

The Excelsior Scholarship grants tuition to deserving students attending the public colleges and universities (SUNY and CUNY) in New York State. Combined with other student financial assistance programs, this scholarship helps applicants to attend a tuition-free SUNY class.

7. When should I apply for Excelsior Scholarship for fall 2020?

It is anticipated that the Excelsior Scholarship application will be available in late May. To be notified by HESC when the Fall 2020 application window opens, please go to the NYS Excelsior webpage and scroll down to the  “How to Apply” section to submit your email address.

8. What GPA do I need for the Excelsior Scholarship?

Award winners must receive at least 2.0 GPA to retain their Excelsior Scholarship award if they receive 30 credits in a year. Recipients should keep in mind that they could have other awards which often hold performance requirements distinct from those needed by the Excelsior Scholarship.

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9. How long does the Excelsior Scholarship take to process?

The screening period for the Excelsior Scholarship takes 7-10 days for the FAFSA and TAP to file.

10. How long can I get the Excelsior Scholarship?

They are entitled to earn an certificate for students completing an associate degree for up to two years and for students seeking a bachelor degree for up to four years. Students of an undergraduate degree program usually taking five years are eligible for a five-year grant.

11. Do I need a certain grade point average to get or keep the award?

They are entitled to earn an certificate for students completing an associate degree for up to two years and for students seeking a bachelor degree for up to four years. Students of an undergraduate degree program usually taking five years are eligible for a five-year grant.

12. Is it possible to lose the scholarship once I receive it?

If you don’t continue to meet the eligibility criteria you may forfeit the scholarship. For instance, to continue earning the scholarship, you must enroll in at least 12 credits per year, and complete 30 credits per year.

13. What are the general requirements of the Excelsior Scholarship?

An applicant must:

  • be a resident of NYS and have resided in NYS for 12 continuous months prior to the beginning of the term;
  • be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen;
  • have either graduated from high school in the United States, earned a high school equivalency diploma, or passed a federally approved “Ability to Benefit” test, as defined by the Commissioner of the State Education Department;
  • have a combined federal adjusted gross income of 110,000 or less for the 2018-2019 academic year;
  • be pursuing an undergraduate degree at CUNY;
  • be enrolled in at least 12 credits per term and complete at least 30 credits each year (successively), applicable toward his or her degree program;
  • if attended college prior to the 2018-19 academic year, have earned at least 30 credits each year (successively), applicable toward his or her degree program prior to applying for an Excelsior Scholarship;
  • be in a non-default status on a student loan made under any NYS or federal education loan program or on the repayment of any NYS award;
  • be in compliance with the terms of the service condition(s) imposed by a NYS award that you have previously received; and
  • execute a Contract agreeing to reside in NYS for the length of time the award was received, and, if employed during such time, be employed in NYS.
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14. Are there any other requirements that one must meet after completing the degree?

Yes. You will live in the State of New York for the number of years equal to the awards you have won. For example, if you earned four Excelsior Scholarship awards when attaining your bachelor’s degree, you have to spend four years after college in New York state. Additionally, you have to live in New York State if you are working during those years. If you fail to meet those conditions, the grant will be transformed to a loan.

15. How do I apply?

Visit the Higher Education Services Corporation website to submit the application. Students who have been previously approved for an Excelsior Scholarship – regardless of whether or not they received funds – do not need to reapply for the 2020-2021 year. Once they complete their 2020-2021 FAFSA and TAP applications their Excelsior Application will be automatically renewed.

16. Do you have to pay back the Excelsior Scholarship?

Upon college, for the number of years you earned the award, you will stay and be working in New York State (if you do work). If you don’t satisfy the residency condition, it is a no-interest debt that you will instead have to pay back.

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