Home Scholarships Detailed Excelsior Scholarship Program

Detailed Excelsior Scholarship Program

Detailed Excelsior Scholarship Program
Detailed Excelsior Scholarship Program

Detailed Excelsior Scholarship Program

This article contains information prior to the Excelsior Scholarship Program

The Excelsior Scholarship enables students to enroll in a SUNY or CUNY college for free when combined with other student financial aid programs. The program pays the tuition for SUNY and CUNY students who qualify. Families who made $125,000 or less in the tax year 2021 are eligible to apply for the 2023–24 academic year.

How to Apply

This application is used to establish your eligibility for the Excelsior Scholarship. If additional documentation is required, you will be instructed to submit it electronically to expedite the process.

Web Application

Welcome to the New York State Excelsior Scholarship program’s online application.

For the school year 2023–2024, students seeking their first prize should submit this application.

You should not apply if you first enrolled in college before 2020 (or before 2019 if you were in an opportunity program or a 5-year program that was approved). You are not eligible for an Excelsior scholarship. Visit www.hesc.ny.gov to learn about the other NYS scholarships that may be available.

Please note: 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.

Application deadline –  August 31st, 2023 at midnight. 


An applicant must:

  • be a resident of NYS and have resided in NYS for 12 continuous months before 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 before the 2023-24 academic year, have earned at least 30 credits each year (successively), applicable toward his or her degree program before 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.

Applicants who first enrolled in college before 2020 or earlier (2019 or earlier if in an approved five-year program or Opportunity Program) are not eligible to apply. Visit https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/financial-aid/types-of-financial-aid.html to explore other NYS opportunities.

>>>>>Click here if you do not meet the above eligibility requirements.<<<<<<

Award Amount

Following the application of all federal, state, and institutional grants and scholarships, the Excelsior Scholarship covers any outstanding tuition costs up to a maximum of $5,500.

The total amount of additional student financial aid awards for the academic year, such as a Federal Pell Grant and/or an NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) award, is subtracted from the tuition rate* paid before calculating the award amount. Up to $5,500 in remaining tuition costs are covered by the Excelsior Scholarship. If a recipient’s tuition costs are more than the total amount of financial help they are given, a tuition credit will be applied to the outstanding amount.

Based on resident tuition rates for 2022–2023 from  SUNY ($7,070) or CUNY ($6,930).

Note: Any award payment received may have tax implications. Any questions regarding this should be directed to a tax professional, the Internal Revenue Service, or the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance.

Catching Up on Credits

To be eligible to apply for an Excelsior Scholarship, a candidate must be on track to finish an Associate’s degree in two consecutive years or a Bachelor’s degree in four consecutive years (which requires completion of the equivalent of 30 credits each academic year). You must reapply to be qualified for an Excelsior Scholarship for the remainder of your undergraduate degree program if you complete extra credits during a term or academic year and get back on track to finishing your degree on time.

Opportunity Programs

The Excelsior Scholarship program, which demands completion of the equivalent of 24 credits per academic year, gives students in opportunity programs five years to finish their degrees on time.

Five-Year Undergraduate Programs

The Excelsior Scholarship program permits students who are enrolled in undergraduate programs of study that typically take five years to finish their degrees on time (which requires completion of the academic year’s worth of credits, or 30 credits).

Students with Disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

Students with qualifying disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act who attend less than full-time must register with their college office for students with disabilities to be eligible for an Excelsior Scholarship.

The Excelsior Scholarship program requires that you be continually enrolled and finish the number of credits you attempted each semester if you are a student who qualifies as having a handicap under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This is necessary to meet the criterion for completing your degree on time. If you successfully gain additional credits during a Summer and/or Winter session(s) and get back on track for credits that were not previously finished, you can make up any credits you have not earned for all courses attempted. For more information, visit NYS Student Financial Aid Programs and Students with Disabilities.

Eligibility Review

By submitting the Income Eligibility Determination Form, students whose current or prior year adjusted gross income is $125,000 or less as a result of a parent or spouse’s death or incapacity may request a reassessment of their eligibility and upload to https://www.hesc.ny.gov/ExcelsiorDetermination.

One of the conditions listed below may allow recipients to keep their Excelsior Scholarship grants even if they don’t complete the annual credit requirements or continuous enrollment requirements. Please get in touch with your school to have your eligibility examined if you fall under one of the following criteria. Please be aware that you will need to provide documentation. If you are found to be qualified for your award, your school will let HESC know. You may be eligible to retain your award under the following conditions:

  • You experience the death of an immediate family member
  • You are called to active military duty
  • You interrupt your studies to take care of your new-born child (parental leave)
  • Your medical or health care provider determines that your medical condition or mental health prevents you from beginning or continuing the term or from continuing a full-time course load.
  • You interrupt your studies to care for an immediate family member, whose medical or health care provider has determined to need additional support or care, which impacts your ability to begin or continue the term or from continuing a full-time course load.

Please be aware that other circumstances other than those indicated above may not allow you to retain your award under State laws and regulations.


A recipient of an Excelsior Scholarship is qualified to receive award payments for a maximum of four years of full-time undergraduate study, or five years if the program of study normally requires five years, in a program leading to a bachelor’s degree, or for a maximum of two years of full-time undergraduate study in a program leading to an associate’s degree.


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