Financial Aid

Excelsior Scholarship Information

We share your concerns regarding the timely notification of your 2020-21 Excelsior Scholarship award. Please note that the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically reduced state revenues and the processing of new applications is pending on Federal assistance, which has been delayed since April. Excelsior Scholarship awards may have to be reduced and/or prioritized for current recipients as provided for under the program. We will update you as more information becomes available.

The Excelsior Scholarship was created with the passage of the New York State budget on April 10th, 2017.  The program is administered by the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC). The Fall 2020 application will become available in July.  Current Excelsior Scholarship recipients do not need to complete the new application.

Please refer to the NYS Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) website below for deadline dates and all other information needed about the program. Or call 888-697-4372, to explore the live chat feature.

Click on the Excelsior Scholarship Program to access the application and the most current information, facts, and FAQs.

Who may be considered for the Excelsior Scholarship?

For the 2020-2021 school year, you must be a New York State resident for at least 12 months prior to the start of your term and have a family adjusted gross income of less than $135,000 reported on your 2018 federal tax return.  This includes students starting in the fall as well as students currently attending college and returning in the fall.   If you’re a current student that started in the 2019-2020 academic year, you must complete and pass 30 credits prior to Fall 2020.  Students may continue to receive the scholarship for up to four years for a bachelor’s degree.  Second bachelor and graduate students are not eligible for this program.

Will college be free?

The Excelsior Scholarship is designed to help cover the cost of tuition only for students attending a college in the state system.  There are many other costs related to attending college including fees, room, board, transportation, books, and other expenses that will not be covered by the scholarship.

How much will the Excelsior Scholarship pay for?

The Excelsior Scholarship will cover up to $5500 minus any amount the student receives from the Federal Pell Grant, the New York State Tuition Assistance Program [TAP], or other scholarships.  If this does not equal the entire amount of tuition, the remainder will be covered by a tuition credit paid by the school.  For Excelsior recipients, your tuition cost will be frozen for 4 years.  The Excelsior Scholarship will last for up to 4 years if you are pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

What do I have to do?

You must also have filed the 2020-21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) application.  While enrolled, you must be full time and have passing grades for at least 30 credit hours each year (including winter and summer terms).  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.

What if I want to change my major?

Please note, changing your Degree Major may have a serious impact on your ability to receive the New York State Excelsior Scholarship. You should always check with the financial aid office to inquire how your student aid will be impacted before changing your major.

Eligibility will be reviewed every semester.  Students who change majors may no longer be considered “on track” if they lose credits that don’t apply to the new major.

What if I don’t pass 30 credit hours or I decide to move out of New York?

They must complete at least 30 credit over 365 days, applicable to the program of study; failure to do so means that the first term award will be paid, but the student will be ineligible for future Excelsior funds ( students can take summer or winter term courses to meet the 30 credits, but they must pay out of pocket for those courses). After graduation, 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.

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