HESC Excelsior Scholarship Program 2024-2025: Tuition-Free New York College

Sponsored by HESC: Secure Your Tuition-Free Education at New York Colleges with the Excelsior Scholarship Program 2024-2025.

The City of New York State is now accepting applications from eligible candidates for the Excelsior Scholarship Program 2024-2025, which offers tuition-free education at HESC and CUNY colleges.

HESC Excelsior Scholarship Program 2024-2025: Tuition-Free New York College

About HESC Excelsior Scholarship:

The Excelsior Scholarship, a groundbreaking initiative in New York State, aims to address the rising costs of higher education and student loan debt by providing eligible residents with the opportunity to attend CUNY colleges tuition-free. This innovative program sets an example for expanding access to higher education nationwide.

Excelsior Scholarship Program Eligibility Requirements:

To qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship program for the 2023-2024 academic year, applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  1. Residency: Applicants must be New York State residents and have continuously resided in the state for 12 months before the term they plan to enroll in.
  2. Citizenship: Applicants must be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens.
  3. Education: Applicants should meet one of the following educational criteria:
    • Graduate from a U.S. high school.
    • Earn a high school equivalency diploma.
    • Pass a federally approved “Ability to Benefit” test as defined by the Commissioner of the State Education Department.
  4. Income: The combined federal adjusted gross income of the applicant’s family must not exceed $125,000 for the 2020 tax year.
  5. Enrollment: Applicants must be pursuing an undergraduate degree at a CUNY college and enroll in at least 12 credits per term.
  6. Credit Completion: Students must successfully complete a minimum of 30 credits each academic year, including summer and winter terms. In cases of hardship, there is some flexibility.
  7. Loan and Award Status: Applicants must be in a non-default status on any student loans from New York State or federal education loan programs and must comply with the terms of any previously received New York State awards.
  8. Residency and Employment Commitment: Scholarship recipients must commit to residing exclusively in New York State for a duration equivalent to the award’s length and, if employed during that time, must work in New York State.

Additional Information:

  • The Excelsior Scholarship is applicable to undergraduate programs, with a maximum duration of 2 years for students pursuing an Associate’s degree and 4 years for those pursuing a Bachelor’s degree. Exceptions are made for programs typically requiring 5 years.
  • Transfer students are eligible if they meet specific criteria without a break in enrollment.
  • Credits earned in high school through programs like College Now and AP classes count toward the 30-credit requirement.
  • Students who initially lack sufficient credits can catch up during their academic journey to become eligible.
  • Failure to complete 30 credits in a 365-day period results in ineligibility for the scholarship in future terms.

The HESC Excelsior Scholarship program is a significant step towards making higher education more accessible and affordable for eligible New York State residents.

Financial Requirements for  Excelsior Scholarship Eligibility:

Income Threshold:

To be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship, your household’s federal adjusted gross income must not exceed $125,000.

Other Grants and Awards:

If you are already receiving grants and awards that cover your full tuition costs, such as TAP, Pell Grants, or other scholarships, you will not be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship.

Understanding Adjusted Gross Income (AGI):

Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is a term used in federal income tax calculations. It represents an individual’s total gross income after specific deductions have been subtracted.

Determining the Income Threshold:

The income threshold is determined based on the adjusted gross income (AGI) of the student and, where applicable, their spouse and/or parents. It is this combined AGI that must not exceed $125,000 for eligibility.

Excelsior Scholarship Award Amounts:

Award Coverage:

  • Excelsior Scholarship recipients can receive financial aid covering up to the full cost of full-time enrollment, as determined by the Excelsior Scholarship program. This amount is calculated by subtracting any financial aid received from other sources, such as TAP, Pell Grants, New York City Merit Scholarships, or other scholarships. The remaining tuition charge will then be covered through a tuition credit provided by CUNY.

Expenses Covered:

  • It’s important to note that the Excelsior Scholarship exclusively covers tuition expenses for undergraduate degree programs. It does not include coverage for other college costs such as room and board, textbooks, fees, transportation, and similar expenses.

Summer and Winter Terms:

  • The Excelsior Scholarship does not extend to covering tuition costs for classes taken during summer and winter terms. It exclusively applies to tuition for fall and spring terms. Therefore, students pursuing the Excelsior Scholarship must find alternative funding for courses taken outside of the fall and spring semesters to meet the required thirty (30) credit completion.

Applying for the HESC Excelsior Scholarship:

The application deadline for the Spring 2023 Excelsior Scholarship has already passed.For those planning to attend college in the Fall 2023 semester, the application for the 2023-24 academic year will become available in late spring.

Recipient Obligations and Requirements:

Post-Degree Obligations:

After completing your degree, you are obligated to reside and work in New York State for a period equal to the duration of the Excelsior Scholarship award you received. You will need to sign a contract with the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) agreeing to these terms. Failure to meet the program requirements may result in the conversion of your award into a loan.

Graduate School Enrollment:

If you finish your undergraduate degree and choose to attend graduate school outside of New York State, your residency requirement will be deferred during your continued education. You will have a six-month window to return to New York State to initiate the fulfillment of your residency requirement.

Credit Requirements:

To qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship, students must be enrolled full-time and complete thirty (30) credits per year, which includes summer term. However, students facing exceptional circumstances may take fewer credits.

Grade Point Average (GPA):

There is no specific GPA requirement for eligibility for the Excelsior Scholarship, as long as students earn thirty (30) credits in a year. Nonetheless, students must maintain a GPA that allows them to successfully complete their degree. It’s important to note that other scholarships may have different academic standards that must be met.

Fulfilling the Thirty-Credit Requirement:

If, by the end of the spring semester, you have only completed 27 credits and wish to fulfill the thirty (30) credit requirement, you can enroll in the summer term and complete 3 credits.

Regaining Eligibility:

In general, regaining eligibility after failing to meet requirements can be challenging. However, there is an appeals process available.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:

Students with disabilities covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 are required to complete the credits attempted each semester to meet the on-time degree completion requirement. Accommodations may be available for students with disabilities, but the credit completion standard remains in place.

How to Apply for New York State Excelsior Scholarship Program at HESC

If you are a current scholarship recipient, there is no need to complete the 2023-24 application.

To complete the application for the 2023-2024 academic year, follow these steps:

  1. Fill out the 2023-2024 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the 2023-2024 Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) Application.
  2. If you are a New York State resident, apply for the NYS Excelsior Scholarship through HESC at www.hesc.ny.gov/excelsior.
  3. Provide copies of your 2021 New York State income tax return(s) that you and your parent(s) filed.
  4. Upload all of your college transcripts and your 2023-2024 Student Aid Report (SAR).
  5. If you are a transfer student covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), also upload an official college transcript.

Please remember to upload your documents after submitting the Excelsior Application on the HESC Account Access page.

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