How to Apply to the Excelsior Scholarship

Many hiexcelsior scholarship applicationgh school students in New York applying to college, have looked at a CUNY or SUNY school. The CUNY university system enrolls over 275,000 students. The SUNY system enrolls over 424,000 students.

In-state tuition is much cheaper than out-of-state tuition. But, it still comes with a high cost. The cost of tuition at CUNY and SUNY schools is around $7,000. While this is cheaper than many schools, it is a whole lot of money to cough up for an undergraduate degree. Of course, these costs can put a damper on a student’s college experience. 

The Excelsior Schola access to a college education.

The Excelsior Scholarship

New York residents may be eligible to apply to the excelsior scholarship. This scholarship allows students to attend CUNY and SUNY schools tuition-free.

Winners of the scholarship can win up to $5,500. The amount a student wins depends on tuition cost, other scholarships they have won, and financial aid. If a student receives a federal grant or outside scholarship, they must use that money first. After that money is applied, the Excelsior Scholarship covers the rest of the cost. 

The scholarship only covers tuition. It doesn’t cover costs like room and board, books, and other fees.

Students completing a full-time undergraduate degree can receive funding for all four years. Students do not need to reapply every year.

Scholarship winners must agree to live and work in New York following the completion of their degree. The number of years in which they must live in New York depends on the number of years they receive the scholarship award. Students are bound by a contract with the HESC.

Failure to meet the work requirements can result in consequences. If the contract is broken, the scholarship money turns into a loan which must be paid back.


There are several eligibility criteria to winning the excelsior scholarship. They include the following:

  • Resident of the state of New York. Applicants must have resided in New York for one year before the start of their degree.
  • U.S high school graduate
  • A family income of $125,000 or less (as per the 2019-2020 school year)
  • Applicants must take at least 12 credits per semester or 30 credits per year. They must complete credits successively. Credits must be applicable to their degree.

Excelsior Scholarship Application

There are several documents students must include along with their scholarship application:

  • IT-201 NYS Income Tax Return (s)
  • College transcripts

The application generally opens around the end of March or in April. It stays open for four months. The application can be found on the HESC website

For more information, email the scholarship committee at They can also be reached by phone at 1(888) 697-4372.

New York is the first state to provide a solution to affording college education. The Excelsior Scholarship program allows families to save thousands of dollars every year. It makes college more accessible for New York students by providing them with tuition-free education. 

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