.

Group of students outside

Excelsior Scholarship - HESC FAQ's

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 application, 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

Find out more about:

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.

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 eligible noncitizen 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 credit requirements of the Excelsior Scholarship?

Students must be enrolled full-time (12 credits) and take thirty (30) credits per year toward their major, including summer and winter terms, in order to receive the Excelsior Scholarship. Students facing hardship are able to take fewer credits.

Are continuing students eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship?

Students who are currently attending college are eligible to receive the scholarship provided they maintained full-time enrollment and completed thirty (30) credits toward their degree each year prior to applying for the scholarship.

How do I maintain my eligibility?

You will continue to receive the Excelsior Scholarship provided that you enroll full-time and successfully complete thirty (30) credits toward your degree in an academic year. In addition, you will need to maintain a GPA that allows for the successful completion of your degree. Students who do not successfully complete thirty (30) credits per year can lose the scholarship.

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.

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 provided they do not have a break in enrollment and are on track to complete their Associate’s degree in 2 years or their Bachelor’s degree in 4 years 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.

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.

Are graduate students eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship?

No, they are not.

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.

What is the definition of a New York State Resident for the purpose of the Excelsior Scholarship?

To be considered a NY State resident for the purpose of receiving the scholarship you must reside in New York State for one year prior to the term for which the scholarship is being sought.

Do the college credits I earn in High School (College Now and AP classes) count toward my thirty (30) credit requirement?

College Now and AP classes taken in High School will count toward the 30 credit requirement.

I began college in the 2015-2016 academic year and completed a total of 54 credits, will I be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship?

Students who first started college in 2015-16 and who has earned a total of 54 credits can use the 2017-18 academic year to catch up on his or her credits. If the student successfully earns 36 credits (for a total of 90 credits), he or she will be eligible to receive an Excelsior Scholarship beginning in the 2018-19 academic year, provided they meet all other eligibility requirements.

I began college in the 2016-2017 academic year and completed a total of 24 credits, will I be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship?

Students who first started college in 2016-17 and who has earned a total of 24 credits can use the 2017-18 academic year to catch up on his or her credits. If the student successfully earns 36 credits (for a total of 60 credits), he or she will be eligible to receive an Excelsior Scholarship beginning in the 2018-19 academic year, provided they meet all other eligibility requirements.

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, Pell Grants and other scholarships 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 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.

Will the Excelsior Scholarship pay for my tuition for the summer and winter terms to complete the thirty (30) credit requirement?

No.  The scholarship will not cover your tuition for classes taken in the summer and winter terms.  It will only cover tuition for the fall and spring terms.

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. The deadline for the fall 2017  Excelsior Scholarship was July 21, 2017. Please visit www.hesc.ny.gov in the fall for updates regarding the application period  for spring 2018.

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

Your residency requirement will be deferred while you continue your education outside of New York State and you will have six months to return to New York State to begin fulfilling your residency requirement.

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.

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.

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 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, students with disabilities under the ADA are allowed to attend part-time and their award will be prorated.