Excelsior Scholarship FAQs
Excelsior Scholarship FAQs
- Will I be able to attend college at SUNY or CUNY tuition free?
- Yes. If you are a NYS resident whose family household federal adjusted gross income (as filed on your 2019 New York State Income Tax Returns) does not exceed $125,000 for the 2021-22 academic year and you complete 30 credits per year, you will be able to attend a SUNY or CUNY college tuition free.
- Can I get an award if I'm currently going to a public college?
- Yes. Students who are currently attending college are eligible to receive an award, provided they are currently on track to complete their degree on time.
- Can I get an award if I'm a transfer student?
- Yes. A student who transferred between postsecondary schools is eligible for an Excelsior Scholarship if they are on track to complete on time based on the number of credits accepted by their current college.
- Can I get an Excelsior Scholarship to pursue a second degree if I already have an undergraduate degree?
- Applicants who have an associate’s degree can receive an award to pursue a bachelor’s degree, provided they immediately enroll in a four-year program upon completion of their two-year degree. You may not receive an award to pursue a second associate’s or a second bachelor’s degree.
- Can I get an Excelsior Scholarship to pursue a degree if I already have a certificate?
- Applicants who have earned a certificate can receive an award to pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree, provided they immediately enroll in a two-year or four-year program upon completion of their certificate program, and provided all credits have been accepted by the receiving college.
- Can I reenroll as a first-year student and receive an Excelsior Scholarship if I began college many years ago?
- No. Students who began an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree who had a break in attendance are not eligible to receive an award. Students who began or completed a certificate program and who had a break in attendance before pursuing their associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree are not eligible to receive an award.
- What does it mean to be a “NYS resident” for purposes of receiving this award?
- To be a NYS resident for purposes of receiving this award, applicants who consider NYS their permanent home and who are either a U.S. citizen, qualified paroled refugee, or permanent resident alien must have resided in New York State for 12 continuous months prior to the term for which the award is being sought.
Applicants who qualify for the award under the NYS DREAM Act must meet one of the eligible citizenship/immigration classifications as well as the high school or tuition charge requirements.
- Am I eligible to receive an award if my parents relocated outside of New York State?
- If you are claimed as a dependent by your parent(s) and your parent(s) resided in New York State for 12 or more continuous months at the time you applied for the Excelsior Scholarship, you will be determined to meet the NYS residency requirement.
If you are claimed as a dependent by your parent(s) and your parent(s) resided outside of New York State, you may be eligible for an award under the provisions of the NYS DREAM Act.
- How much income can my family earn to be eligible for an award?
- Your household federal adjusted gross income (comprised of parents’ and student’s income) can total up to $125,000 to be eligible.
- Can I use my family's current income if it makes me eligible for the award?
- Your family's current income or prior year adjusted gross income (comprised of parents’ and student’s income) can be used to establish income eligibility only if you, a parent or a spouse becomes disabled, divorced or separated or in the event of the death of a parent or spouse. You can request a review of your eligibility by complete the Income Eligibility Form here.
- Am I eligible to apply for the Excelsior Scholarship if I take remedial classes?
- Yes. Students taking remedial classes are eligible to apply. However, you will need to complete 30 credits per year (which can include summer and winter terms) in addition to your remedial classes.
- Am I eligible for an award if I changed my major and now need additional time to complete my degree?
- If you are no longer on track to complete an associate’s degree in two years or a bachelor’s degree in four years, you will be ineligible for the award.
- Will the Excelsior Scholarship pay for my summer classes if I attend a summer term to complete my 30 credits?
- No. Students will be charged the current tuition rate for any summer classes taken to complete the 30 credit Excelsior requirement.
- Can credits that I earned during a summer or winter term be counted towards meeting my 30-credits per year?
- Yes. Credits earned during a summer or winter term (as well as college credits earned while in high school) will count towards the 30-credit per year requirement.
- What if I fail to complete the 30-credit requirement?
- If you fail to complete 30 credits over a 365-day period, the Excelsior Scholarship will cover your first term; however, you will be responsible for the tuition liability for your second term. In addition, because you will no longer be on track to complete your degree on time, you will be ineligible for any future award payments.
- Can I regain eligibility if I get back on track after failing to complete 30 credits in a prior year?
- No. A student who fails to complete 30 credits in any year is ineligible for any future payments under the Program.
- Am I eligible to apply if I started college in January 2021 and only completed 12 credits?
- Students who first entered college in January 2021 must have a total of 15 credits to be eligible for fall 2021. Credits can be earned through a combination of classes taken in spring and/or summer and any accepted credits earned in high school applicable to their program of study.
- Am I eligible to apply for the Excelsior Scholarship if I took 12 credits in each of my first two semesters and am now taking 6 additional credits this summer?
- Yes. You are eligible to apply for the Excelsior Scholarship if you are currently taking a summer course that brings you to 30 credits before the fall term.
Credits from AP Courses
- Can AP credits that I earned while in high school be counted towards meeting my 30-credit per year requirement?
- Yes. College credits earned while a student in high school can be applied in any manner that results in 30 cumulative credits per year.
Credit Catch Up
- If I do not have the equivalent of 30 credits per year to be on-track for graduation, can I make them up to qualify?
- Yes, 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 an 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 to complete your degree on time (which requires completion of the equivalent of 24 credits each academic year).
If you are in an undergraduate program of study normally requiring five-years, the program allows five years to complete your degree on time (which requires completion of the equivalent of 30 credits each academic year).
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.
- Am I eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship if the college I transferred to does not accept all my credits?
- In some instances, students may be eligible for a first Excelsior payment at your transfer college to allow you to make up any credits lost from transferring colleges. If credits are not made up by the second term, you will lose eligibility as you are no longer on track to complete your degree on time, and you will be ineligible for an Excelsior Scholarship going forward.
- Do I have to receive a TAP award to be eligible to receive an Excelsior Scholarship?
- No. You do not have to receive a TAP award to be eligible to receive an Excelsior Scholarship. However, a student who does receive a TAP award will have their Excelsior Scholarship reduced by the amount of their TAP award.
- When do I begin fulfilling my residency requirement?
- The post-award residency requirement begins when you are no longer receiving an award. You will have up to six months after your last award payment has made before you must live in NYS to fulfill the residency requirement. In addition, if you are working during those years, you must work in New York State.
If you have lost eligibility for the award and are continuing with your undergraduate studies at a NYS college, your residency requirement would begin while you are still in school.
If you are pursuing a graduate or post-graduate degree at a NYS college, your residency requirement will begin while you are enrolled in graduate school.
- What if I continue my education at a college outside of NYS?
- Your post-award residency obligation is deferred while you continue your education outside of New York State. You will have six months to return to NYS to begin fulfilling your residency requirement.
- Will my entire award convert to a loan if I move out of New York State?
- Your award will be prorated when calculating your loan amount. If you received awards for four years and resided in NYS for three years, you will be required to repay one-fourth of the award as a no-interest loan. If you relocated due to an allowable hardship, your loan conversion may be waived.
- What is the interest rate if my award reverts to a loan?
- The Excelsior Scholarship awards which you receive will convert to a zero-interest loan.
- What is the repayment term if my Excelsior award reverts to a loan?
- The Excelsior Scholarship will convert to a 10-year loan. Loans can be repaid early without penalty.
- Who will service my loan if I don’t meet the residency requirement?
- HESC will service loans that are in repayment, provided regular payments continue to be made. Unpaid loans will be referred to the NYS Office of the Attorney General.