Excelsior Scholarship: requirements, How To Apply

Excelsior Scholarship Program

Excelsior Scholarship

Application Deadline: Spring 2020 Term: January 20th, 2020.

The Excelsior Scholarship will be applied to each qualifying student’s financial aid package after all other aid, including TAP, Pell, City Council Scholarship, college scholarships and other grants or scholarships are applied.
The Excelsior Scholarship provides tuition awards to eligible students attending New York State's public colleges and universities (SUNY and CUNY). This scholarship, in combination with other student financial aid programs, allows students to attend a SUNY college tuition-free.

What are the general requirements of the Excelsior Scholarship?

You 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 $125,000 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 through continuous study with no break in enrollment except for certain reasons that can be documented;
  • if attended college prior to the 2019-20 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 any 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.

How long can I receive the Excelsior Scholarship?

You are eligible to receive an Excelsior Scholarship for up to 2 years for students pursuing an Associate’s degree and up to 4 years for students pursuing a Bachelor’s degree. Students in an undergraduate program of study normally requiring 5 years are eligible to receive the award for 5 years.

How much can I receive from the Excelsior Scholarship?

To determine the award amount, the 2016-17 resident tuition rate charged by SUNY ($6,470) or CUNY ($6,330) 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. The Excelsior Scholarship will cover any remaining tuition liability up to $5,500; and a tuition credit will cover any remaining tuition expenses not covered by the Excelsior Scholarship.

So A recipient of an Excelsior Scholarship may receive up to $5,500.

How To Apply ?

In addition to your FAFSA and TAP applications, students will also need to file an Excelsior Scholarship application. The application for the 2018-19 academic year is scheduled to open Monday, March 26 and will close on Monday, July 23, 2018. The application will be available on the HESC website at www.hesc.ny.gov. If you are already a recipient of an Excelsior Scholarship from a previous application period, you do not need to complete this application. You are a recipient if you signed and submitted the Excelsior Scholarship contract, even if you did not receive payment in the prior year.
This application is for students looking to receive a first-time award for the 2018-19 academic year.
*Students who are current recipients of the scholarship do not need to complete the 2019-20 application.
In order to complete the application, you will need to:
Please ensure that you upload your documents after you submitted the Excelsior Application at the HESC Account Access page.
Read eligibility requirements at Excelsior Scholarship FAQs - CUNY.


To receive award payments after the initial application year, an Excelsior Scholarship recipient must annually complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the NYS Student Aid Payment Application each year.

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