Excelsior Scholarship Program

New York State LogoThe Excelsior Scholarship


The Excelsior Scholarship Program:

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 2018-19 academic year ($6,870) pending the approval from the SUNY Board of Trustees. 

Income: As with the 2018-19 FAFSA and TAP application, Prior-Prior year (PPY) 2016 adjusted gross income (AGI) will be used. 


Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) Thresholds:

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.

Verification of AGI: HESC will be verifying 2016 AGI through the NYS Tax and Finance Department.

Application of Other Financial Aid Award Programs: Pell, TAP, and the SUNY Tuition Credit along with some Institutional 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 if 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.

The Excelsior Scholarship FAQs

Q. What does it mean to be a NYS resident for purposes of receiving this award?
A. To be considered a NYS resident for purposes of receiving this award, you must have resided in the State for 12 continuous months prior to the term for which the award is being sought.

Q. How much can I receive from the Excelsior Scholarship?
A. An Excelsior Scholarship recipient can receive up to $5,500 from the Excelsior Scholarship, minus any amounts received for TAP, Pell or other scholarships. The remainder of your tuition charge will be covered through a tuition credit paid through SUNY or CUNY.

Q. Will I be able to get an award for the fall?
A. Yes. Eligible students will receive awards to attend a SUNY or CUNY college tuition free this fall.

Q. When will I be able to apply for the award?
A. It is anticipated that the Excelsior Scholarship application will be available in late May.

Q. How much income can my family earn to be eligible for an award?
A. For the 2017-18 academic year, your 2015 federal household adjusted gross income can total up to $100,000 to be eligible. For 2018-19, that amount increases to $110,000 (using 2016 AGI), and beginning in 2019-20 and beyond, your family’s adjusted gross income can total up to $125,000 (using 2017 AGI).

Q. Can I get an award if I'm currently going to a public college?
A. Yes. Students who are currently attending college are eligible to receive an award, provided they are currently on track to complete their degree on time.

Q. How long can I get the award?
A. You are eligible to get an award for up to two years for students pursuing an associate’s degree and up to four years for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Students in an undergraduate program of study normally requiring five years are eligible to receive the award for five years.

Q. Do I need a certain grade point average to get or keep the award?
A. Award recipients need to earn a passing grade to maintain their Excelsior Scholarship awards, provided they earn a total of 30 credits over the course of a year. Recipients should keep in mind that they may have other awards which also carry academic standards that differ from those required for the Excelsior Scholarship.

Q. Can I get an award if I'm a transfer student?
A. A student who transferred between colleges is eligible for an Excelsior Scholarship if they are on track to complete on time based on the number of credits accepted by their current college.

Q. Once I receive the scholarship, is it possible to lose it?
A. You can lose the scholarship if you do not continue to meet all eligibility requirements. For example, you must enroll in at least 12 credits per term and complete 30 credits per year to continue to receive the scholarship.

Q. If I completed my associate's degree, can I receive this award to get my bachelor's degree?
A. Yes, provided the college that you are attending accepted all of the credits you earned in completing your associate’s degree, and meet all other requirements for the Excelsior Scholarship.

Q. Are there any other requirements that I must meet after I complete my degree?
A. Yes. You must live in New York State for the number of years equal to awards you received. For example, if you received four Excelsior Scholarship awards while getting your bachelor’s degree, you must live in New York State for four years after college. In addition, if you are working during those years, you must work in New York State. Failure to meet these requirements will result in the conversion of your award to a loan.

Q. I already have an undergraduate degree. Can I get an Excelsior Scholarship to pursue a second degree?
A. Applicants who have an associate’s degree are eligible to pursue a bachelor’s degree. However, you may not receive an award to pursue a second associate’s or a second bachelor’s degree.

Q. Can I attend graduate school out of state after I have received the Excelsior Scholarship?
A. Yes, however when you complete your graduate program you must come back and work or reside in New York State.

Q. Do I still need to complete a TAP application even if I am not eligible for TAP in order to receive the Excelsior Scholarship?
A. Yes, you must complete the TAP application, the FAFSA, and the Excelsior Scholarship application in order to be considered for the Excelsior Scholarship.

Q. What if I don't pass 30 credit hours or I decide to move out of New York?
A. Eligibility will be reviewed every semester. If you do not pass 30 credit hours each year you will lose the Excelsior Scholarship and may not be able to reinstate it. After graduation, you must live and be employed (if working) in New York State for at least as many years as you received the scholarship. If you do not meet the New York State residency requirement for as many years as you received the Excelsior Scholarship, it becomes a loan which you will then be required to pay back.

For More Information:

Take the next step