Excelsior Scholarship FAQs

Yes. If you are a NYS resident whose family household federal adjusted gross income (as filed on your New York State Income Tax Returns) does not exceed $125,000 and you complete 30 credits per year, you will be able to attend a SUNY or CUNY college tuition-free.

Applicants who have an associate degree can receive an award to pursue a bachelor’s degree, provided they immediately enroll in a four-year program upon completion of their two-year degree.

Applicants who have earned a certificate can receive an award to pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree, provided they immediately enroll in a two-year or four-year program upon completion of their certificate program and provided all credits have been accepted by the receiving college.

No. Students who began an associate or bachelor’s degree or completed a certificate program who had a break in attendance are not eligible.

NYS Residency

To be considered an NYS resident for purposes of receiving this award, applicants must be U.S. citizens, qualified paroled refugees, or permanent resident aliens and must have resided in New York State for 12 continuous months prior to the term for which the award is being sought.

Applicants who qualify for the award under the NYS DREAM Act must meet one of the eligible citizenship/immigration classifications as well as the high school or tuition charge requirements of the DREAM Act.

If you are claimed as a dependent by your parent(s) and your parent(s) resided in New York State for twelve or more continuous months at the time you applied for the Excelsior Scholarship, you will meet the NYS residency requirement.

If you are claimed as a dependent by your parent(s) and your parent(s) reside outside of New York State, you may be eligible for an award under the provisions of the NYS DREAM Act.

Income

Your household's federal adjusted gross income can total up to $125,000. For dependent students, the federal adjusted gross income is comprised of parents’ and student’s income if the student’s income exceeds the income threshold for the applicable year. The 2024-25 application uses income from 2022, and the verified federal threshold for 2022 is $12,950. If the dependent student applying for the 2024-25 school year earned $12,950 or less in 2022, they are not required to file their own taxes and the parent(s) income will be the only income used in determining income eligibility.

Your family's current income or prior year adjusted gross income can be used to establish income eligibility only if you, a parent, or a spouse becomes disabled, divorced, or separated or in
the event of the death of a parent or spouse. You can request a review of your eligibility by completing the Income Eligibility Form here.

Remedial Coursework

Yes. Students taking remedial classes are eligible to apply. However, you will need to complete 30 credits per year (which can include summer and winter terms) in addition to your remedial classes.

Credits

General

If you are no longer on track to complete an associate degree in two years or a bachelor’s degree in four years, you will be ineligible for the award.

No. Students will be charged the current tuition rate for any summer classes taken to complete the 30-credit Excelsior requirement.

Yes. Credits earned during a summer or winter term (as well as college credits earned while in high school) will count towards the 30-credit per year requirement.

If you fail to complete 30 credits over a 365-day period, the Excelsior Scholarship will cover your first term. You will then be responsible for the tuition liability for your second term. In addition, because you will no longer be on track to complete your degree on time, you will be ineligible for any future award payments.

No. A student who fails to complete 30 credits in any year is ineligible for any future payments.

Yes. College credits earned while a student in high school can be applied in any manner that results in 30 cumulative credits per year.

Transfer Students

Yes. Students who transfer between postsecondary schools can receive an award if they remain on track to complete their degree based on the number of credits accepted by their new college.

In some instances, students may be eligible for a first Excelsior payment at their transfer college to allow them to make up any credits lost from transferring colleges. If credits are not made up by the second term, you will lose eligibility as you are no longer on track to complete your degree on time, and you will be ineligible for an Excelsior Scholarship going forward.

TAP Eligibility

No. You do not have to receive a TAP award but must apply to be eligible for an Excelsior Scholarship. However, a student who does receive a TAP award will have the amount of their Excelsior Scholarship reduced by the amount of their TAP award.

Post-Award Obligations

The post-award residency requirement begins when you no longer receive an award. You will have up to six months after your last award payment has been made before you must live in NYS to fulfill the residency requirement. Additionally, if you are working during those years, you must work within New York State.

If you have lost eligibility for the award and are continuing with your undergraduate studies at an NYS college, your residency requirement would begin while you are still in school.

If you are pursuing a graduate or post-graduate degree at an NYS college, your residency requirement will begin while you are enrolled in graduate school.

Your post-award residency obligation is deferred while you continue your education outside of New York State. You will have six months to return to NYS to begin fulfilling your residency requirement.

Your award will be prorated when calculating your loan amount. If you received awards for four years and resided in NYS for three years, you will be required to repay one-fourth of the award as a no-interest loan. If you relocated due to an allowable hardship, your loan conversion may be waived.

The total amount of the Excelsior Scholarship awards you receive will convert to a zero-interest loan.

The Excelsior Scholarship will convert to a 10-year loan. Loans can be repaid early without penalty.

HESC will service loans that are in repayment, provided regular payments continue to be made. Unpaid loans will be referred to the NYS Office of the Attorney General.