Excelsior Scholarship Program
The Excelsior Scholarship, in combination with other student financial aid programs, allows students to attend a SUNY or CUNY college tuition-free.
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 $100,000 or less;
- be pursuing an undergraduate degree at a SUNY or CUNY college, including community colleges and the statutory colleges at Cornell University and Alfred University;
- 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 2017-18 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.
Catching Up on Credits
A student who is not on track to complete an Associate’s degree in two consecutive years or Bachelor’s degree in four consecutive years (which requires completion of the equivalent of 30 credits each academic year) can catch up on missing credits to become eligible for an Excelsior Scholarship. If you successfully earn additional credits during a term or academic year and get back on track to completing your degree on time, you will be eligible to receive an Excelsior Scholarship for the remainder of your undergraduate degree program.
If you are in an opportunity program, the program allows five years (which requires completion of the equivalent of 24 credits each academic year) to complete your degree on time.
If you are in an undergraduate program of study normally requiring five-years, the program allows five years (which requires completion of the equivalent of 30 credits each academic year) to complete your degree on time.
If you are a student with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the program requires that you complete the credits attempted each semester to fulfill the requirement for on-time degree completion.
A recipient of an Excelsior Scholarship may receive up to $5,500.
To determine the award amount, the resident tuition rate charged by SUNY (currently $6,470) or CUNY (currently $6,330) will be reduced by the amount of certain other student financial aid awards which an applicant has or will receive for the academic year, including a NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) award and/or federal Pell grant. The Excelsior Scholarship will cover any remaining tuition liability up to $5,500; and a tuition credit will cover any remaining tuition expenses not covered by the Excelsior Scholarship.
*Note: Any award payment received may have tax implications. Any questions regarding this should be directed to a tax professional, the Internal Revenue Service, or the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance.
A recipient of an Excelsior Scholarship is eligible to receive award payments for not more than two years of full-time undergraduate study in a program leading to an associate's degree or 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.
To receive payments each subsequent year (after the initial application year), Excelsior Scholarship recipient must annually complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the TAP-on-The-Web Application each year.
How to ApplyThe Excelsior Scholarship application for the spring 2018 term is now available. Current Excelsior Scholarship recipients should not complete this application. If you first received the award in the fall term of the current academic year, no additional action is needed for the spring term.
To complete the application, you will need:
- To complete the 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the TAP-on-The-Web Application
- Copies of 2015 New York State income tax return(s) filled by you and your parent(s), as applicable
- If you are a transfer student or a student with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an official college transcript
- If you are a current student, for the application question “During your lifetime college experience, how many terms did you complete?” please include the current fall term in your count.
Frequently Asked Questions