Excelsior Scholarship FAQs

What is the Excelsior Scholarship?

How do I apply?

When does the scholarship go into effect?

Who is eligible?

What are the terms of the scholarship?

What are the income limits?

Are there any exceptions to the rules?

What about those who were in school and previously earned credit before 2015-16?

Transfer Student information

Other information

If I don't qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship is there another program that might help me?

What is the Excelsior Scholarship?

It is a state of New York financial aid program to provide free tuition for students attending either a State University of New York (SUNY) or a City University of New York (CUNY) institution. SUNY Empire State College is encouraging its students and prospective students to participate if they are eligible. The award is capped at $5,500 a year and can only be used for the cost of tuition.

How do I apply?

Visit the Higher Education Services Corporation website.

When does the scholarship go into effect?

The benefits of the program become available with the fall 2017 semester, and require that the student apply and be accepted for the program and meet all program criteria. Applications are available on the HESC website beginning Wednesday, June 7 and must be submitted no later than Friday, July 21.

Who is eligible?

First-time college students seeking an undergraduate degree who meet the gross adjusted income limits. Students seeking a graduate degree or a second associate or bachelor’s degree are not eligible.

What are the terms of the scholarship?

Students must attend college full time, enrolled for at least 12 credits in the fall semester and 12 credits in the spring semester, with a cumulative 30 credits in a year. Students must maintain passing grades in all courses. Associate degree candidates must complete all degree requirements in two years and bachelor’s degree candidates must complete in four years.

When the scholarship ends, a recipient must continue to live and work in New York for the same amount of time the scholarship was received. If the recipient does not meet this obligation, the scholarship immediately converts into a 10-year, interest-free student loan that must be repaid.

What are the income limits?

Students or their parents must earn an adjusted gross income of less than $100,000 for the 2017-18 school year. The income amount increases to $110,000 for 2018-19 and to $125,000 in 2019-20.

Are there any exceptions to the rules?

Yes. Students with a disability within the definitions of the American with Disabilities Act are exempt from the full-time attendance requirement, both the 12 credits per fall and spring semester and 30 credits per year.  

A temporary leave from school that might cause a student to fall below the 30 credit requirement are allowed due to the death of a family member, a medical leave, military service, service in the Peace Corps, parental leave, or another reason approved by the Higher Education Services Corp.

Students who after their scholarship ends, can get a residency requirement deferral for graduate school, a medical school residency or other undergraduate study out of state on at least a half-time basis, or if they can demonstrate extreme hardship as a result of a disability, labor market conditions or other circumstances.

Other exemptions for previously enrolled and continuing students include:

  • Those who entered school in the 2015-16 year and have earned 54 credits can qualify for the 2017-18 award but only if they earn 90 credits by the end of the 2017-18 school.
  • Those who entered school in the 2016-17 year and have eared 24 credits can qualify for the 2017-18 award but only if they earn 60 credits by the end of the 2017-18 school year.

Continuing students will have a “catch-up” year during 2017-18 to complete up to six credits (without financial help from the Excelsior program) to meet the 30-credit-hour requirement and then be eligible for an Excelsior award in 2018-19.

What about those who were in school and previously earned credit before 2015-16?

It is likely they will not be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship based on the definitions from regulations approved:

Start date – when student began attendance as a first-time college student; also the date the institution determines the recipient was first in attendance at that institution.

Successful completion – a student has earned at least 30 combined credited in each consecutive year following the student start date.

Transfer Student information

For students transferring between colleges, eligibility is based on whether they are on track to complete on time based on the number of credits accepted by their current institution.

Other information

This is a “last-dollar” award, meaning if a student is eligible for other financial aid assistance, such as a federal Pell grant or a state TAP award, those dollars will be counted first against the tuition bill and the Excelsior Scholarship will be applied after all other aid is counted.  However, other awards intended to cover non-tuition expenses will not be included in the those being counted for covering the cost of full tuition.

Recipients of the Excelsior Scholarship must apply for payment annually.

Credit counted toward the full-time enrollment requirement should apply to the student’s specific program of study.

Non-credit courses cannot be counted, nor can remedial coursework.

College-level courses undertaken in high school, such as AP course or before matriculation can be counted toward the 30-credit requirement, do not have to be part of a student’s program of study and can be “banked” for use throughout the matriculated student’s studies.

If I don't qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship is there another program that might help me?

Yes, there are several. New York offers a Tuition Assistance Program and Aid for Part-time Study grants. Information on additional scholarships and other types of financial aid are also available by visiting the Empire State College Financial Aid Office website.

Contact us

financialaid@esc.edu

Fax: 518-581-2782

Mailing Address: 
Empire State College
Financial Aid
111 West Ave.
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Questions? Contact the Student Information Center at 518-587-2100 or 800-847-3000.

FAFSA Info

Code: 010286
Name: SUC Empire State College

TAP Codes

Undergraduate: 0913
Graduate: 5680 (for graduate students applying for Veteran Tuition Awards)

Announcements

Students planning to attend starting in May 2017 or thereafter should apply for financial aid for 2017-2018 by submitting the 2017-2018 FAFSA.

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the PDF files on this site. If Acrobat Reader is not installed on your computer, you can download it for free from Adobe's site. If you are still unable to view the file, please contact us at financialaid@esc.edu or call 800-847-3000.

Take the Next Step

Ready to advance your education and career? There’s no time like the present. Apply now, or learn more about SUNY Empire at one of our information sessions.