Excelsior Scholarship (New York State) 2023/24

The Excelsior Scholarship, a pioneering initiative in the state of New York, stands as a testament to the commitment of fostering accessible higher education. Enacted in 2017 under the leadership of Governor Andrew Cuomo, this scholarship program was designed with the noble intention of alleviating financial barriers to college education for eligible students. Rooted in the belief that education is a transformative force and should be within reach for all, the Excelsior Scholarship has become a flagship endeavor, shaping the academic journeys of countless individuals.

Excelsior Scholarship (New York State)

The Excelsior Scholarship is a tuition-free scholarship program in the state of New York, aimed at making higher education more accessible for eligible students.

Here’s a comprehensive overview of the Excelsior Scholarship:


Initiation and Implementation

The Excelsior Scholarship was introduced by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and was enacted in 2017. It represents a commitment to providing tuition-free education for eligible students attending public colleges and universities in the state.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship, students need to meet certain criteria, including:

Be a resident of New York State: Attend a public college or university within the State University of New York (SUNY) or City University of New York (CUNY) system.

Have a family household federal adjusted gross income (AGI) below a certain threshold.

Income Thresholds

The program has income thresholds to determine eligibility. These thresholds may change, so it’s crucial to refer to the latest guidelines. Generally, the Excelsior Scholarship is designed to benefit students from middle-class families.

Credit Requirements

Recipients of the scholarship must maintain a certain number of credits each year, typically 30 credits per academic year, to remain eligible. The program encourages timely completion of degrees to ensure the scholarship’s availability for as many students as possible.

Full-Time Enrollment

Students must enroll as full-time undergraduates to qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship. This requirement emphasizes the importance of dedicated pursuit of higher education to fully utilize the scholarship benefits.

Program Coverage

The Excelsior Scholarship covers the cost of tuition but does not cover other expenses such as room and board, books, and fees. Students are encouraged to explore additional financial aid options to address these supplementary costs.

Application Process

Eligible students need to apply for the Excelsior Scholarship through the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) website. The application process typically involves providing information about residency, income, and enrollment in a SUNY or CUNY institution.

Post-Graduation Commitment

Upon graduation, Excelsior Scholarship recipients are required to live and work in New York State for the same number of years they received the scholarship. If they leave the state before completing this post-graduation commitment, the scholarship converts to a loan that must be repaid.

Impact and Criticisms

The Excelsior Scholarship has been praised for its commitment to reducing financial barriers to higher education. However, it has also faced criticism for its restrictions, including the post-graduation residency requirement and the exclusion of certain expenses from coverage.

Evolution and Changes

The program may undergo changes, updates, or expansions based on legislative decisions and budgetary considerations. It’s important for prospective applicants and current recipients to stay informed about any modifications to the Excelsior Scholarship.

Expansion to Income Thresholds

Over the years, the Excelsior Scholarship has seen adjustments to income thresholds to accommodate a broader range of students. These changes aim to strike a balance between making college affordable for middle-class families and managing the financial constraints of the program.

Application Deadlines

The Excelsior Scholarship typically has specific application deadlines, and students are encouraged to submit their applications in a timely manner. Staying informed about these deadlines is crucial to ensure eligibility for the scholarship.

Combination with Other Aid

While the Excelsior Scholarship covers tuition costs, students are encouraged to explore and apply for other forms of financial aid, such as federal Pell Grants and other scholarships, to address additional expenses not covered by the Excelsior Scholarship.

Participating Institutions

The Excelsior Scholarship applies to public colleges and universities within the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) systems. This includes a wide range of institutions, offering students various options for pursuing their higher education goals.

Advocacy for Higher Education

The Excelsior Scholarship aligns with the broader national and global push for increased accessibility to higher education. By providing tuition-free education, it contributes to the larger conversation about the societal benefits of an educated population and the reduction of economic barriers to academic success.

Educational Requirements

In addition to credit requirements, the Excelsior Scholarship often has academic performance requirements to maintain eligibility. Students are typically expected to meet certain grade point average (GPA) standards to continue benefiting from the scholarship.

State Budget Considerations

The continuation and success of the Excelsior Scholarship depend on ongoing state budget allocations. Changes in state priorities, fiscal constraints, or shifts in educational policies can influence the availability and structure of the scholarship program.

Access to Workforce Opportunities

The post-graduation residency requirement aims to encourage Excelsior Scholarship recipients to contribute to the workforce within New York State. This requirement reflects a focus on retaining skilled individuals within the state to bolster its economy and workforce.

Feedback and Evaluation

Like any substantial program, the Excelsior Scholarship is subject to evaluation and feedback. The state authorities may review the program’s effectiveness, consider feedback from stakeholders, and make adjustments to enhance its impact on students and the higher education landscape.

Public Awareness and Outreach

The success of the Excelsior Scholarship is closely tied to public awareness. Outreach efforts, including informational campaigns and partnerships with educational institutions, play a crucial role in ensuring that eligible students are aware of and can take advantage of the scholarship.


Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the application for the Excelsior Scholarship for new applicants for the 2023 – 2024 academic year is now open here. The Excelsior Scholarship allows eligible full-time students to attend a SUNY or CUNY two-year or four-year college tuition-free. The scholarship is administered by the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation.

In summary, the Excelsior Scholarship continues to be a dynamic and evolving initiative, reflecting ongoing efforts to address the challenges of college affordability and promote educational access for a diverse range of students in the state of New York. Its impact extends beyond tuition coverage, influencing discussions on the role of state-sponsored programs in shaping the future of higher education.

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