Excelsior Scholarship – Benefits, Eligibility, and Application

Are you looking to fund your college education? Explore the Excelsior Scholarship, a program designed to assist New York residents. This comprehensive guide details eligibility, the application process, and frequently asked questions.

The Excelsior Scholarship is a financial aid program offered by New York State. It’s designed to free college tuition for eligible students attending in-state public universities. Including the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY).  The scholarship acts as a “last-dollar” award, meaning it covers the remaining tuition costs after other financial aid sources. Federal Pell Grants and the NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), have been applied.

However, it’s important to note that the application deadline for Fall 2024 has already passed. If you’re interested in learning more about eligibility requirements and the application process for next year, keep reading to find out how you can stay informed about the scholarship and potentially receive free tuition for your college education.

What is the Excelsior Scholarship?

The Excelsior Scholarship is a New York State grant program designed to make college tuition-free for eligible students attending in-state public colleges and universities (SUNY and CUNY).  In conjunction with other financial aid programs, it can fully cover tuition costs.

Who is eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship?

To be eligible for these, you must meet the following criteria:

  • New York State Residency: You must be a continuous New York State resident for at least 12 months before the term begins.
  • U.S. Citizenship/Permanent Residency: You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen.
  • High School Diploma/Equivalency: You must have a high school diploma, and a General Education Development (GED) equivalency diploma. Or have passed the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC).
  • Income Requirement: Your family’s adjusted gross income (AGI) must fall at or below the annual income threshold set by the program (currently $125,000).
  • Full-Time Enrollment: You must enroll in a full-time undergraduate program (at least 12 credits per semester).
  • Academic Progress: You must maintain satisfactory academic progress as defined by your chosen institution.
  • Service Requirement: After graduation, you agree to live and work in New York State for the duration you received the scholarship (e.g., four years for a four-year degree).

How to apply for the Excelsior Scholarship

The application process for the Excelsior Scholarship is typically conducted through the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) website. Here’s a general outline:

  1. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): This is crucial, it is a “last-dollar” award, meaning it fills the gap after other financial aid is applied.
  2. Submit the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) application: NYS TAP is another state grant program that often synergizes with the Excelsior Scholarship.
  3. Apply for the Excelsior Scholarship: Once you’ve completed the FAFSA and NYS TAP applications, you’ll be prompted to apply for these through the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) website (https://www.hesc.ny.gov/partner-access/financial-aid-professionals/tap-and-scholarship-resources/excelsior-scholarship-program).

Important deadlines for the Excelsior Scholarship

Don’t miss your chance! Applications for this is typically open in the spring semester for the following fall semester. Check the HESC website  (https://www.hesc.ny.gov/partner-access/financial-aid-professionals/tap-and-scholarship-resources/excelsior-scholarship-program) for the most up-to-date deadlines.

Benefits of receiving the Excelsior Scholarship

These offer a multitude of benefits for qualifying students:

  • Reduced Financial Burden: The scholarship significantly reduces or eliminates tuition costs, making college significantly more affordable.
  • Increased Access to Education: By easing the financial pressure, the scholarship opens doors for students from diverse backgrounds to pursue higher education.
  • Reduced Student Loan Debt: Graduating with minimal or no debt allows graduates to focus on their careers and future goals without being weighed down by financial obligations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Excelsior Scholarship

What is the award amount for the Excelsior Scholarship?

The award amount varies depending on your family’s income, tuition costs at your chosen institution, and the availability of funds. You can find an award estimate calculator on the HESC website.

Is the Excelsior Scholarship renewable?

Yes, it is renewable for up to four years (eight semesters) provided you continue to meet eligibility requirements.

What types of institutions are eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship?

This is generally applicable to two- and four-year colleges and universities approved by the New York State Education Department.

When is the deadline to apply for the Excelsior Scholarship?

The application deadline typically coincides with the FAFSA® deadline. Check the HESC website for the most up-to-date information.

Where can I find more information about the Excelsior Scholarship?

For detailed information, eligibility requirements, and the application process, visit the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) website: New York State Higher Education Services Corporation


The Excelsior Scholarship offers a valuable opportunity for New York residents to pursue higher education. By understanding the eligibility criteria and application process. You can increase your chances of receiving this scholarship and making your college dreams a reality. Remember to visit the HESC website for the latest program updates and application details.