Excelsior Scholarship Program

The Excelsior Scholarship


Governor Cuomo has announced as part of the 2018 budget agreement, a new scholarship program beginning in 2017-18 entitled The Excelsior Scholarship.  In year one, this program will provide a tuition scholarship at Fredonia and other public colleges and universities to families earning up to $100,000 in calendar year 2015.

The Excelsior Scholarship will be phased in over the next three years, with eligibility beginning in Fall 2017 for both new and returning undergraduate students.  Since the Excelsior Scholarship is a “last dollar” scholarship, all federal, state, and institutional sources of grant assistance will be subtracted from the 2016-17 SUNY annual in state tuition rate of $6,470 to calculate eligibility for the award.

The Excelsior Scholarship Program: What We Know Today

(Information provided by SUNY Central on 4/13/2017)

Eligibility: Attend a New York State public institution.

Tuition: The undergraduate in-state tuition charged to recipients of The Excelsior Scholarship cannot exceed the tuition rate for the 2016-17 academic year ($6,470). 

Income: As with the 2017-18 FAFSA and TAP application, Prior-Prior year (PPY) 2015 adjusted gross income (AGI) will be used. 


Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) Thresholds:

2017-18: $100,000 (2015 AGI)

2018-19: $110,000 (2016 AGI)

2019-20: $125,000 and thereafter (2017 AGI)


Application Process: The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation in Albany (HESC) is developing an application vehicle for The Excelsior Scholarship.  Students applying for this scholarship must complete the FAFSA and TAP applications.

HESC anticipates applications will be available in late May with an expected  deadline for submission in late July.

Verification of AGI: HESC will be verifying 2015 AGI through the NYS Tax and Finance Department.

Application of Other Financial Aid Award Programs: Pell, TAP, and the SUNY Tuition Credit along with Fredonia scholarships must be applied first. The Excelsior Scholarship is a last dollar scholarship which means all federal, state, and institutional grants and scholarships will reduce the annual amount of the award.

GPA and Earned Credits: According to HESC, recipients must earn a passing grade in their coursework to maintain the scholarship.

Recipients must complete a total of 30 credit hours over the course of an academic year.  In addition, students must be enrolled for a minimum of 12 credits per semester. Recipients may use intersessions and summer terms in accumulating the 30 credits within the academic year. 

Duration of Award; allowable interruptions and deferments of post graduated requirements: The awards are limited to the length of the program (2 year, 4 year, approved 5 yr).  HESC will define allowable interruptions and deferments of post graduation requirements in regulation.  The law allows for interruptions including but not limited to a death of a family member, medical leave, military service and parental leave. HESC has indicated postgraduate deferrals for residing in NYS will include military service and graduate school.  Applicants cannot receive an excelsior award of they already have a bachelor degree and cannot receive a second associates if they already have an associate degree.

NYS Residency: Applicants must be a NYS resident to be eligible for the scholarship.

Post Graduation Residency: The student is required to reside in NYS for the same number of years in which they received the award.  The student does not need to be employed during this period, however they cannot be employed in another state.

Citizenship: The Excelsior Scholarship program falls under the general award rule. As such, applicants must meet the same requirements for citizenship as for TAP.

Loan Information: The scholarship only reverts to a loan when a student does not fulfill the post graduation residency requirement.  The scholarship does not revert to a loan if the student becomes ineligible and loses the scholarship during their undergraduate work prior to graduation.

Regaining eligibility: A student cannot regain eligibility if they lose the scholarship during their undergraduate study.  There are some allowable interruptions listed in the statute and we anticipate more information will be detailed in regulation.

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