The Excelsior Scholarship enables students to enroll in a SUNY or CUNY college for free when combined with other student financial aid programs. The program pays the tuition for SUNY and CUNY students who qualify. Families who made $125,000 or less in the tax year 2020 are eligible to apply for the 2022–23 academic year.
A candidate must:
- Be a resident of New York State and have done so for the 12 months prior to the start of the term;
- Be an eligible foreign national or U.S. citizen;
- Have either passed a federally recognized “Ability to Benefit” test, as established by the Commissioner of the State Education Department, or have obtained a high school diploma equivalent from a US institution;
- Possess a total federal adjusted gross income (combined) of $125,000 or less;
- Be enrolled in a SUNY or CUNY college, including community colleges and the statutory colleges at Cornell University and Alfred University, to pursue an undergraduate degree;
- Be enrolled in at least 12 credits every term and finish at least 30 credits year (successfully), all of which must be applied toward the student’s degree program. There must be no breaks in enrollment, unless they are due to specific, verifiable causes;
- Prior to qualifying for an Excelsior Scholarship, if attending college prior to the 2022–2023 academic year, have successfully acquired at least 30 credits per year that contribute to their degree program;
- Being in good standing with the repayment of any NYS award as well as any student loans taken out under federal or NYS educational loan programs;
- Be in compliance with any service requirements imposed by any earlier NYS award that you have received; and
- Sign a contract promising to live in New York State for the duration of the award period and, if employed, to work in NYS during that time.
Once other federal, state, and private grants and scholarships are applied, the Excelsior Scholarship covers any outstanding tuition costs up to $5,500.
The total amount of additional student financial aid awards for the academic year, such as a NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) award and/or a federal Pell grant, is first subtracted from the tuition rate* charged to arrive at the award amount. The remaining tuition costs up to $5,500 are covered by the Excelsior Scholarship. A tuition credit will be applied to the outstanding debt in cases where tuition costs are greater than the total amount of financial aid a recipient is given.
For no more than four years of full-time undergraduate study—or five years if the program of study normally requires five years—in a program leading to a bachelor’s degree, or for no more than two years of full-time undergraduate study in an associate’s degree program, a recipient of an Excelsior Scholarship is eligible to receive award payments.
Will I be allowed to enroll at SUNY or CUNY colleges without paying tuition?
Yes. You can enroll in a SUNY or CUNY college for free if you are a resident of New York State and your family household federal adjusted gross income for the 2021–22 academic year does not exceed $125,000 (as reported on your 2019 New York State Income Tax Returns).
Can a transfer student receive an award?
Yes. If a student is on track to graduate on time based on the amount of credits accepted by their current college, they are eligible for an Excelsior Scholarship even if they transferred between postsecondary institutions.
Can I apply for an Excelsior Scholarship if I already have a certificate in order to pursue a degree?
As long as they immediately enroll in a two-year or four-year program after finishing their certificate program and as long as all of their credits have been accepted by the receiving college, applicants who have earned a certificate are eligible to receive an award to pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree.
Please contact the Scholarship Unit Here to ask more questions..