NYS Excelsior Scholarship Info

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How to Apply

Apply now for the Excelsior Scholarship, the nation’s first tuition-free degree public college plan.

Eligibility

An applicant must:

  • be a resident of NYS and have resided in NYS for 12 continuous months prior to the beginning of the term;
  • be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen;
  • have either graduated from high school in the United States, earned a high school equivalency diploma, or passed a federally approved “Ability to Benefit” test, as defined by the Commissioner of the State Education Department;
  • have a combined federal adjusted gross income of $100,000 or less;
  • be pursuing an undergraduate degree at a SUNY or CUNY college, including community colleges and the statutory colleges at Cornell University and Alfred University;
  • be enrolled in at least 12 credits per term and complete at least 30 credits each year (successively), applicable toward his or her degree program;
  • if attended college prior to the 2017-18 academic year, have earned at least 30 credits each year (successively), applicable toward his or her degree program prior to applying for an Excelsior Scholarship;
  • be in a non-default status on a student loan made under any NYS or federal education loan program or on the repayment of any NYS award;
  • be in compliance with the terms of the service condition(s) imposed by a NYS award that you have previously received; and
  • execute a Contract agreeing to reside in NYS for the length of time the award was received, and, if employed during such time, be employed in NYS.

Catch-Up Year

Applicants who first entered college as a freshman student in the 2015-16 and who have earned 54 credits, or who first entered college as a freshman student in 2016-17 academic year and who earned 24 credits can make up those 6 credits in 2017-18. Students who successfully earn 36 credits in the 2017-18 academic year can become eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship beginning in the 2018-19 academic year.

Award Amount*

A recipient of an Excelsior Scholarship may receive up to $5,500 or actual tuition, whichever is less.

The maximum Excelsior Scholarship of $5,500 will be reduced by the amount of certain other student financial aid awards which an applicant has or will receive for the academic year, including a NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) award and/or federal Pell grant. A tuition credit will cover any remaining tuition expenses not already covered by other forms of financial aid.

*Note: Any award payment received may have tax implications. Any questions regarding this should be directed to a tax professional, the Internal Revenue Service, or the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance.

Duration

A recipient of an Excelsior Scholarship is eligible to receive award payments for not more than two years of full-time undergraduate study in a program leading to an associate’s degree or four years of full-time undergraduate study, or five years if the program of study normally requires five years, in a program leading to a bachelor’s degree.

Payment

To receive payments each subsequent year (after the initial application year), Excelsior Scholarship recipient must annually complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Payment of State Grants, Scholarships and Awards Application each year.

How to Apply

Apply now for the Excelsior Scholarship, the nation’s first tuition-free degree public college plan.

TIPS WHEN APPLYING

Apply now for the Excelsior Scholarship, the nation’s first tuition-free degree public college plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

View commonly asked questions pertaining to the Excelsior Scholarship.

Questions?

Please contact the Scholarship Unit at scholarships@hesc.ny.gov or 888-697-4372.

Excelsior Tips

RESIDENCY

What if I went to a non-NYS college and am transferring to a SUNY or CUNY college?

Students who are transferring to a SUNY or CUNY college from an out-of-state school are considered to meet the residency requirements if:

  • They are financially dependent on their parents’ income, and
  • Their parents resided in NYS while they attended a college outside of NYS.

FREE APPLICATION FOR FEDERAL STUDENT AID (FAFSA) FILING

What if I didn’t file the FAFSA / What if I have an incomplete FAFSA?

You must have filed a completed FAFSA in order to apply for the Excelsior Scholarship.

If you submitted your FAFSA online, then the U.S. Department of Education will process your application within 3-5 days. If you submitted a paper FAFSA, your application will be processed within 7-10 days.

You can check the status of your FAFSA immediately after submitting it online by going to http://www.fafsa.gov and logging in.

You can check the status of a paper FAFSA after it has been processed (roughly 7–10 days from the date mailed).

Once your application is processed, you will receive a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR), which summarizes the information you provided on your FAFSA. You should review your SAR and make sure all of the information is complete and accurate.

You can make changes or corrections to your FAFSA in one of the following ways:

  1. Make changes at fafsa.gov:
    • Click on the “Login” button and provide the information requested to get into your account.
    • On the My FAFSA page, click “Make FAFSA Corrections.”
    • Enter your FSA ID (username and password).
    • Change your information.
    • Submit your new information.
  2. Write in the corrections or updates on your paper Student Aid Report (SAR), sign it, and mail it to the address provided on the SAR.

Check with the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend; the school might be able to make changes for you electronically.

You should contact the financial aid office at the college you plan to attend to find out if there are additional requirements for receiving financial aid and to learn more about the process of applying for aid at that college.

INCOME

What income information do I need?

You will be asked to provide your:

  1. Federal Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), as reported on your 2015 NYS Tax Return, and
  2. New York State Net Taxable Income (NTI), as reported on your 2015 NYS Tax Return.

Your AGI will be used to determine whether you meet the $100,000 income requirement to be eligible for an award for the 2017-18 academic year. Your NTI will be used to determine whether you meet the $80,000 TAP income eligibility requirement for a TAP award for the 2017-18 academic year.

If you were not required to file a NYS Income Tax Return for the 2015 tax year, you should enter $0 for your income.

Income information will be verified through the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.

Whose income should I report?

If you are an applicant who was claimed as a dependent by your parent(s) on their income tax return, you should report both income which you earned and income which your parent(s) earned.

If you are an applicant who is married, you should report both income which you earned and income which your spouse earned, even if you filed separately.

What tax return do I need?

You will need to provide income tax information from your 2015 Form IT-201, New York State Resident Income Tax Return.

You will be asked if you completed the Form IT-203, New York State Nonresident and Part-Year Resident Income Tax Return, so please make sure you know which form was filed.

FINANCIAL AID INFORMATION

What if I don’t have information about other types of financial aid that I will be receiving?

Your financial aid award information can be found on your financial aid award letter or may be available on your student account.

If you have not yet received information on your financial aid awards from your institution, you can either report amounts you received in the previous year or enter zero.

CREDIT REQUIREMENTS

What if I am currently taking summer courses to meet my 30-credit per year requirement?

Courses that you complete this summer will count toward your 30-credit per year requirement.

Due to the July 21 close of the Excelsior application, students taking summer courses to fulfill the 30-credit requirement for the 2016-17 academic year should include the number of credits they will complete in their Spring 2017 semester total – even if the class is not yet completed.

Your college will verify the completion of summer session credits by August 31, 2017.

What if I only took college courses to be eligible for a job opportunity?

Applicants who have not pursued a degree, but took courses for employment or various other personal reasons are eligible to apply.

You should not enter credits taken as a high school student, or courses taken if you were not pursuing a degree (i.e., while you were a non-matriculated student).

What if I am in an Opportunity Program?

Applicants enrolled in an Opportunity Program, such as the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), SEEK, College Discovery are considered to be in a program of study normally requiring 5 years of study, and must have completed 24 credits per year to be eligible.

What if I have a disability under the ADA?

Students with disabilities covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) are exempt from the 30-credit per year requirement. Students with a disability under the ADA and who are certified by their college, may attend less than full-time, and will have their award prorated. Such students will not be asked to identify the number of credits completed.

For More Information, go to www.hesc.ny.gov/excelsior.

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