The Excelsior Scholarship, in combination with other student financial aid programs, allows students to attend a SUNY or CUNY college tuition-free.
The Excelsior Scholarship application for the 2020-21 academic year is now open for new applicants. Current Excelsior Scholarship recipients should not complete this application.
What are the basic eligibility requirements?
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 $125,000 or less;
- be pursuing an undergraduate degree at a SUNY;
- 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 2020-21 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 the Economic Opportunity Program (EOP), the Excelsior Scholarship program allows five years to complete your degree on time (which requires completion of the equivalent of 24 credits each academic year). See your EOP Advisor for information.
Students with Disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
To be eligible for an Excelsior Scholarship, students with qualified disabilities under the Americans With Disabilities Act who attend less than full time must register with the Old Westbury Office of Services for Students with Disabilities.
If you are a student with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Excelsior Scholarship program requires that you be continuously enrolled and complete the number of credits you attempted each semester to fulfill the requirement for on-time degree completion. If you have not earned credits for all courses attempted, you can catch up on missing credits if you successfully earn additional credits during a Summer and/or Winter session(s) and get back on track for credits that were not previously completed.
Students whose 2018 household family income would make them eligible due to the death, disability, divorce or separation of a parent, spouse or the student may appeal their disqualification by completing the Income Appeal Form and uploading to https://www.hesc.ny.gov/ExcelsiorIncomeAppeals.
Students who are determined to be ineligible for failure to meet the annual credit or continuous enrollment requirements and who can demonstrate good cause may appeal the decision by completing and submitting the Excelsior Scholarship Program Appeal Form and uploading to https://www.hesc.ny.gov/ExcelsiorAppeals.
Students with disabilities determined to be ineligible who can demonstrate good cause for completing fewer credits than attempted or a break in attendance may appeal the decision by completing and submitting the Excelsior Scholarship Program Appeal Form and uploading to https://www.hesc.ny.gov/ExcelsiorAppeals.
To determine the award amount, the 2016-17 resident tuition rate charged by SUNY ($6,470) 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: The Excelsior Scholarship does not cover winter intersession or summer semesters.
Please be aware that the Excelsior Scholarship program is a last dollar award. All Federal and State grants will need to be applied prior to the Excelsior Scholarship. In addition, the scholarship is applied to tuition charges only. All fees, room and meals (if applicable) are the responsibility of the student.
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.
How to Apply
Application Deadline: August 31, 2020
Current Excelsior Scholarship recipients should not complete this application. If you first received an award for either the 2018-19 or the 2019-20 academic year, no additional action is needed for the 2020-21 academic year.
To receive award payments after the initial application year, an Excelsior Scholarship recipient must annually complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the NYS Student Aid Payment Application each year.
Have Questions? Need More Information?
Contact the Higher Education Services Corporation Scholarship Unit
- Email: scholarships [at] hesc.ny.gov
- Phone: 888-697-4372