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What is the Excelsior Scholarship? Your Guide to Tuition-Free College in New York

Jan 12, 2024
What is the Excelsior ScholarshipWhat is the Excelsior Scholarship
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If you’re a New York resident dreaming of pursuing higher education without the burden of tuition, the Excelsior Scholarship might be your key to unlocking that dream. This innovative program, launched in 2017, has helped thousands of students attend State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) colleges tuition-free. But with any scholarship program, eligibility requirements and nuances can arise. So, let’s delve into the details of the Excelsior Scholarship and answer the question: “What is the Excelsior Scholarship?”

Breaking Down the Basics:

At its core, the Excelsior Scholarship is a merit- and need-based financial aid program designed to make public college more accessible for New York residents. The program covers the remaining tuition costs after considering other federal and state grants and scholarships, such as the Pell Grant and Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). This “last-dollar” approach ensures that the Excelsior Scholarship fills the gap in funding, potentially making your SUNY or CUNY education completely free.

Eligibility Requirements:

To be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a New York resident: You must have resided in New York State for at least 12 consecutive months prior to the start of the academic term.
  • Enroll in an eligible program: The scholarship applies to undergraduate degrees at SUNY and CUNY colleges, including community colleges and select programs at Cornell and Alfred Universities.
  • Maintain good academic standing: You must complete at least 30 credits per year and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  • Meet the income threshold: Your family’s adjusted gross income for the 2022 tax year must be $125,000 or less.
  • File the required applications: Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Excelsior Scholarship application by the deadline.

Additional factors to consider:

  • The scholarship is renewable for up to four years for bachelor’s degrees and two years for associate’s degrees.
  • Recipients must agree to live and work in New York State for a period equal to the duration of the award after graduation.
  • The scholarship only covers tuition and does not include other college expenses like fees, room, and board.

Benefits of the Excelsior Scholarship:

The Excelsior Scholarship offers numerous advantages for eligible students:

  • Reduced financial burden: By covering tuition costs, the scholarship significantly alleviates the financial stress associated with college.
  • Increased access to higher education: The program makes college more attainable for students from middle-income families, promoting social mobility and educational equity.
  • Stronger workforce: By supporting future generations of skilled professionals, the Excelsior Scholarship contributes to a stronger New York economy.

Beyond the Basics:

If you’re interested in learning more about the Excelsior Scholarship, here are some helpful resources:

  • The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) website: This official website provides comprehensive information about the program, eligibility requirements, and application procedures.
  • Your chosen SUNY or CUNY college financial aid office: The financial aid office at your desired college can answer specific questions about how the Excelsior Scholarship applies to your program and financial situation.
  • Online forums and communities: Connecting with other Excelsior Scholarship recipients or applicants through online forums or social media groups can offer valuable insights and support.

The Excelsior Scholarship represents a significant step towards making higher education more affordable and accessible in New York State. By understanding the program’s details and eligibility requirements, you can assess your own potential for receiving this life-changing scholarship and take the first step towards achieving your academic goals.

Remember, the deadline to apply for the Excelsior Scholarship for the 2024-2025 academic year is typically in the spring. So, don’t wait – start exploring your eligibility and application options today!

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