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The University is pleased to announce that the State of New York, under the leadership of Governor Cuomo and the legislature, is taking a bold step in addressing the cost of college education and student loan debt by launching the Excelsior Scholarship.  This program is the first of its kind in the country. It will enable many New York State residents to attend a CUNY college tuition-free and establish a national model broadening access to higher education.

Recipients of this award must have a family income of $100,000 or less, file the Free Application for Student Aid (FASFA) along with the TAP supplement, attend full-time, and complete 30 credits per year.  Awardees must also agree to reside exclusively in New York State and not be employed in any other State for a continuous number of years equal to the duration of the award.

The Excelsior Scholarship will be applied to each qualifying student’s financial aid package after all other aid, including TAP, Pell, City Council Scholarship, college scholarships and other grants or scholarships are applied.

Additional details about the Excelsior Scholarship will be made available once the regulations governing the program are finalized.  In the meantime, we recommend that you file the FAFSA immediately if you have not already done so.  Please refer any questions you have to the Admissions or Financial Aid Office at the college you will be attending.

Chancellor James B. Milliken
The City University of New York

Will I be able to attend college at CUNY tuition free?

You may be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship, if you are an undergraduate who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and reside in New York State for one year prior to enrollment and whose family’s adjusted gross income (as filed on your 2015 federal tax returns) does not exceed $100,000 and you complete thirty (30) credits per year. With the Excelsior Scholarship you will be able to attend CUNY tuition free for the 2017-18 academic year if you meet all these requirements and funding is available.

What are the requirements for the Excelsior Scholarship?

Potential recipients must have an adjusted gross income (AGI) that does not exceed $100,000 for the 2017-18 academic year and must file the FAFSA and TAP applications. There will also be an Excelsior Scholarship application that is not yet available. However, you can register to be contacted as soon as it becomes available at www.hesc.ny.gov/excelsior. You must register full-time for both the fall and spring semesters and enroll in and complete a minimum of thirty (30) credits for the academic year, which may include fall, spring, winter and summer semesters. All coursework must be applicable to your major.

Will I be able to get an Excelsior Scholarship for fall 2017?

Yes. Eligible students will receive awards to attend CUNY tuition free beginning fall 2017.

How do I apply for the Excelsior Scholarship and when will it be available?

In addition to your FAFSA and TAP applications, students will also need to file an Excelsior Scholarship application.  It should be available beginning June 1st.  You can register at www.hesc.ny.gov/excelsior and you will be notified as soon as it becomes available

How do I maintain my eligibility?

You will continue to receive the Excelsior Scholarship provided that you enroll full-time and complete thirty (30) credits in an academic year. In addition, you must continue to meet the income requirements from year to year and maintain a minimum of a 2.0 GPA.

What are the credit requirements of the Excelsior Scholarship?

Students must be enrolled full-time and take thirty (30) credits per year including summer in order to receive the Excelsior Scholarship. Students facing hardship are able to take fewer credits.

Are continuing students eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship?

Yes. Continuing students will be required to complete thirty (30) credits for each academic year you attend CUNY.

How much can I receive from the Excelsior Scholarship?

An Excelsior Scholarship recipient can receive up to $5,500 from the Excelsior Scholarship, minus any amounts received for TAP, Pell, New York City Merit Scholarship or other scholarships. The remainder of your tuition charge will be covered through a tuition credit paid through CUNY.

What expenses does the Excelsior Scholarship Cover?

The scholarship covers tuition only for students pursuing an undergraduate degree and does not cover other costs of college such as room and board, books, fees, transportation, etc.

How much income can my family earn to be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship?

For the 2017-18 academic year, your federal household adjusted gross income can total up to $100,000 to be eligible. For 2018-19, that amount increases to $110,000, and beginning in 2019-20 and beyond, your family’s adjusted gross income (AGI) can total up to $125,000.

I am receiving other grants and awards that cover the cost of tuition. Can I still receive the Excelsior Scholarship?

Students whose full tuition is covered by TAP and Pell Grants are not eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship.

What is meant by the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)?

Adjusted gross income can be found on a federal income tax form. It is an individual’s total gross income minus specific deductions.

How is the income threshold determined?

The adjusted gross income (AGI) is determined by the income of the student, the spouse and/or parents where applicable.

How long can I receive the Excelsior Scholarship?

You are eligible to receive an Excelsior Scholarship for up to 2 years for students pursuing an Associate’s degree and up to 4 years for students pursuing a Bachelor’s degree. Students in an undergraduate program of study normally requiring 5 years are eligible to receive the award for 5 years.

Do I need a certain grade point average to get or to keep the Excelsior Scholarship?

There is not a GPA requirement for students to be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship provided they earn thirty (30) credits over the course of a year, however students will need to maintain a GPA that allows for the successful completion of their degree. Recipients should keep in mind that they may have other awards, which require academic standards that differ from those required for the Excelsior Scholarship.

Can I get an Excelsior Scholarship award if I’m a transfer student?

A student who transferred between colleges is eligible for an Excelsior Scholarship if they are on track to complete their degree on time based on the number of credits accepted by their current college.

Do I qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship if I begin enrollment in the spring semester?

If you begin attending in the spring, you must complete thirty (30) credits by the start of the following spring term.

I began enrollment in September and at the end of the spring semester I only have 27 credits. What can I do to fulfill the thirty (30) credit requirement?

If you attend the summer term and take 3 credits you will fulfill the thirty (30) credit requirement for the scholarship.

If I completed my Associate’s degree, can I receive this award to get my Bachelor’s degree?

Yes, provided the college that you are attending accepted all of the credits you earned while completing your Associate’s degree and you meet all other requirements for the Excelsior Scholarship. However, you will not be able to use the Scholarship for another Associate’s degree.

If I no longer meet the requirements can I regain my eligibility?

Generally, no, however there is an appeal process.

Will there be accommodations for students with disabilities?

Yes, and the requirements will be forthcoming.

Are there any other requirements that I must meet after I complete my degree?

Yes. You must live and work in New York State for the time period equal to the duration of the award received. You will be required to sign a contract with the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) agreeing to these terms. Failure to meet Excelsior Scholarship program requirements will result in the conversion of your award to a loan.

If I have an undergraduate degree, can I receive the Excelsior Scholarship to pursue a second undergraduate degree?

No. You cannot receive the Excelsior Scholarship to pursue a second undergraduate degree.

Are graduate students eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship?

No, they are not.

If I complete my undergraduate degree and leave New York State to attend graduate school does my scholarship, become a loan?

No, not immediately but you need to return to New York to complete the residency requirements.