Excelsior Scholarship

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  • Excelsior Scholarship Program Eligibility Appeal Form: If you were recently notified that, since first enrolling in college/university, you (a) failed to complete an average of at least 30 combined credits per year applicable to your degree program, (b) failed to have sufficient credits accepted by your transfer college/university, or (c) failed to be continuously enrolled, you may still be eligible for an Excelsior Scholarship by completing and submitting this appeal form.

What is the Excelsior Scholarship?

It is a state of New York financial aid program to provide free tuition for students attending either a State University of New York (SUNY) or a City University of New York (CUNY) institution. Empire State University is encouraging its students and prospective students to participate if they are eligible. The award is capped at $5,500 a year and can only be used for the cost of tuition.

How do I apply?

Visit the Higher Education Services Corporation website to submit the application.

Students who have been previously approved for an Excelsior Scholarship – regardless of whether or not they received funds – DO NOT NEED TO REAPPLY FOR THE 2024-2025 YEAR.  Once they complete their 2024-2025 FAFSA and TAP applications their Excelsior Application will be automatically renewed. 

When does the scholarship go into effect?

The benefits of the program became available with the fall 2017 semester, and require that the student apply and be accepted for the program and meet all program criteria. New York State determines when the application is available. 

Who is eligible?

First-time college/university students seeking an undergraduate degree who meet the gross adjusted income limits. Students seeking a graduate degree or a second associate or bachelor’s degree are not eligible.  Students who attended college/university prior to 2021 are not eligible.

What are the terms of the scholarship?

Students must attend college/university full time, enrolled for at least 12 credits in the fall semester and 12 credits in the spring semester, with a cumulative 30 credits in a year. Students must maintain passing grades in all courses. Associate degree candidates must complete all degree requirements in two years and bachelor’s degree candidates must complete in four years.

When the scholarship ends, a recipient must continue to live and work in New York for the same amount of time the scholarship was received. If the recipient does not meet this obligation, the scholarship immediately converts into a 10-year, interest-free student loan that must be repaid.

What are the income limits?

Students or their parents must earn an adjusted gross income of less than $125,000.

Are there any exceptions to the rules?

Yes. Students with a disability within the definitions of the American with Disabilities Act are exempt from the full-time attendance requirement, both the 12 credits per fall and spring semester and 30 credits per year.  

A temporary leave from school that might cause a student to fall below the 30 credit requirement are allowed due to the death of a family member, a medical leave, military service, service in the Peace Corps, parental leave, or another reason approved by the Higher Education Services Corp.

Students who after their scholarship ends, can get a residency requirement deferral for graduate school, a medical school residency or other undergraduate study out of state on at least a half-time basis, or if they can demonstrate extreme hardship as a result of a disability, labor market conditions or other circumstances.

Transfer Student information

For students transferring between colleges/universities, eligibility is based on whether they are on track to complete on time based on the number of credits accepted by their current institution.

Other Information

This is a “last-dollar” award, meaning if a student is eligible for other financial aid assistance, such as a federal Pell grant or a state TAP award, those dollars will be counted first against the tuition bill and the Excelsior Scholarship will be applied after all other aid is counted. However, other awards intended to cover non-tuition expenses will not be included in the those being counted for covering the cost of full tuition.

Recipients of the Excelsior Scholarship must apply for payment annually.

Credit counted toward the full-time enrollment requirement should apply to the student’s specific program of study.

Non-credit courses cannot be counted, nor can remedial coursework.

College-level courses undertaken in high school, such as AP course or before matriculation can be counted toward the 30-credit requirement, do not have to be part of a student’s program of study and can be “banked” for use throughout the matriculated student’s studies.

If I don't qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship is there another program that might help me?

Yes, there are several. New York offers a Tuition Assistance Program and Aid for Part-time Study grants. Information on additional scholarships and other types of financial aid are also available by visiting the Empire State College Financial Aid Office website.