Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that approximately 53 percent of full-time SUNY and CUNY in-state students, more than 210,000 New York residents, are going to school tuition-free thanks to the addition of students receiving the Excelsior Scholarship. The Excelsior Scholarship is the first-in-the-nation program providing cost-free tuition at New York’s public colleges and universities. This number also takes into account the very generous New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), Pell and other scholarships.
“A college degree now is what a high school diploma was 30 years ago—it is essential to succeed in today’s economy. Our first-in-the-nation Excelsior Scholarship is designed so more New Yorkers go to college tuition-free and receive the education they deserve to reach their full potential,” said Cuomo. “New York leads the nation in creating equal opportunity for all, and we will continue to work to ensure that access to a college degree is not determined by family finances but rather is available to all who work hard and dream big.”
So far, approximately 45,000 students have been determined eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship and will attend SUNY or CUNY tuition-free this year, including more than 23,000 who will have their tuition covered through TAP, Pell and other financial aid, and nearly 22,000 who will have their remaining tuition costs covered by the Scholarship. Students who learned of their eligibility for TAP and Pell through the Excelsior Scholarship application process may have otherwise been unaware of their ability to qualify for cost-free tuition.
Excelsior Scholarship applicants who met the program’s eligibility requirements received cost-free tuition. The number of scholarship recipients, approximately 22,000 students, aligns with the State’s initial projections for year one of the first-in-the-nation program. The number of students eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship will rise each year until fully implemented and, as there are still more than 6,000 applications pending final approval, the number of award recipients for this year is expected to rise. There are currently nearly 400,000 full-time, in-state SUNY and CUNY students.
The Excelsior Scholarship is being phased in over three years. For the 2017-18 academic year New Yorkers with household incomes up to $100,000 are eligible, increasing to $110,000 in 2018-19, and reaching $125,000 in 2019-20. Students must be enrolled in college full-time and complete 30 credits per year (including Summer and January semesters) in order to receive the funding. However, the program has built in flexibility so that any student facing hardship is able to pause and restart the program, and all recipients can take fewer credits one semester than another in completing 30 credits per year.
“The dream of an affordable college education is now a reality for tens of thousands of Excelsior Scholarship recipients,” said Dr. Guillermo Linares, acting president of the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation. “I’m proud of the role that HESC has played, and will continue to play in helping students fulfill this dream.”
Students are required to maintain a grade point average necessary for the successful completion of their coursework, and, as the program makes a major investment in the state’s greatest asset—young people—scholars will be required to live and work in-state after graduation for a duration equal to the number of years an Excelsior Scholarship was received.
“Colleges and universities throughout The State University of New York and most importantly—SUNY students—have embraced the opportunity provided by Governor Cuomo’s first-of-its-kind Excelsior Scholarship Program, and we are proud to welcome the first class of Excelsior Scholars to our campuses this semester,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “Increasing access to quality higher education, and making it more affordable for more New Yorkers, will mean a brighter future for our graduates, our university system, and our state. We look forward to growing this innovative program and bringing even more students to SUNY tuition-free as eligibility increases over the next two years.”
“In affording all low- and middle-income New Yorkers access to quality higher education, at no cost, the Excelsior Scholarship ensures that New York and CUNY remain beacons of opportunity,” added William C. Thompson, Jr. CUNY Board of Trustees Chairperson. “This innovative investment in our students will pay dividends for decades to come and sets a standard for college affordability for the rest of the country to follow.”
—Submitted by the office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo