The Excelsior Scholarship, proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in January and passed by the Legislature on April 7, 2017, will provide lower tuition fees for students at New York State’s public colleges and universities. According to a New York Times article, the program is expected to reduce the cost of a four-year degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) from almost $83,000 for tuition, fees, and room and board by approximately $26,000 for an eligible family.
The program will mainly benefit traditional students – those who attend college full-time and complete their studies within four years. However, the New York Times article points out that the typical student that would theoretically benefit from reduced cost tuition, will likely need to take off time to work and attend college part time. Excelsior will not help these traditional, typical students.
Here are the eligibility requirements for the Excelsior Scholarship:
• You must be an undergraduate student enrolled at a SUNY or CUNY (City University of New York) school.
• Starting Fall 2017, families who earn less than $100,000 are eligible. The income cap will go up to $110,000 in 2018 and reach $125,000 in 2019. It is based on the adjusted gross income reported on the family’s most recent tax return. There is no sliding scale and the threshold doesn’t consider how many children are in the family.
• Recipients are required to live and work in New York after graduation for the same number of years as they received the scholarship. If they leave New York, their scholarship will be converted into a loan which must be repaid. There are limited exceptions for those in the military or those pursuing graduate studies outside New York State.
• Students can enroll at any age and don’t have to be a recent high school graduate.
• You cannot be in default on any existing federal or state student loans.
• Students must be a citizen, permanent resident, or refugee to qualify.
• You must stay enrolled full time (taking 30 credits/year). Some of the credits can be taken during the summer. However, there will be exceptions. Students with disabilities won’t be required to register full time to be eligible. You must maintain the GPA necessary to remain in school and stay on track to graduate on time.
Excelsior is a “last dollar” program, which means its funds can be used after a student has received other scholarships or grants, like Federal Pell grants or state aid. Furthermore, Excelsior leaves students on the hook for other (non-tuition) expenses that most students need help with – books, fees, and room and board.
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