The Excelsior Scholarship allows eligible students to earn a free college degree at any City University of New York (CUNY) or State University of New York (SUNY) college.

The scholarship covers the remaining cost of tuition after other scholarships and financial aid like the Pell Grant and the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) are applied. You can receive up to a $5,500 scholarship from the program.

The program doesn't cover other costs of college, such as room and board, fees, or transportation.

A recipient of an Excelsior Scholarship is eligible to receive award payments for:

  • Up to 2 years of full-time undergraduate study in a program leading to an associate's degree
  • 4 years of full-time undergraduate study (or 5 years if the program normally requires 5 years) in a program leading to a bachelor's degree

The deadline to apply for the 2019-2020 academic year is August 15, 2019. Current Excelsior Scholarship recipients don't need to reapply.

Learn more about the Excelsior Scholarship.

Both new and current CUNY and SUNY students can apply for the Excelsior Scholarship.

To be eligible, you must:

  • Be a NY State resident and live in the State for at least 12 continuous months before the term you want to receive the award
  • Enroll at a 2-year or 4-year CUNY or SUNY college
  • Be pursuing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree
  • Attend school full time
  • Earn $125,000 or less (household federal adjusted gross income)
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) application

Additional eligibility requirements apply.

To keep the Excelsior Scholarship, you must meet certain eligibility requirements while you are earning your degree and after you have completed it. You can lose the scholarship if you don’t continue to meet all of the requirements.

To keep receiving payments each year, you must:

  • Continue to live in NY State
  • Earn passing grades
  • Complete a total of 30 credits each year
  • Stay on track to graduate within 2 or 4 years, depending on the degree
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) application each year

After you complete your degree, you must live in NY State for the same number of years you received the scholarship. For example, if you received four scholarship awards, you must live in the State for four years after you get your degree. If you are also working during those years, you must work in NY State.

If you fail to meet these requirements, the award will be converted to a loan which you must pay back.

The Excelsior Scholarship program began in Fall 2017 for individuals and families earning up to $100,000 a year. It will be phased in over three years to include higher income eligibility thresholds.

For the 2018-2019 academic year, the income threshold was $110,000. For the 2019-2020 year and beyond, it will be $125,000.