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Cuomo Proposes Free Tuition at New York State Colleges for Eligible Students


Replies to: Cuomo Proposes Free Tuition at New York State Colleges for Eligible Students

  • sybbie719sybbie719 Super Moderator Posts: 22,561 Super Moderator
    edited August 2018
    Excelsior is not a scam. I think perhaps the biggest disconnect is that the program is really designed for first time college students.

    The article makes a big deal about CUNY colleges. It seems that the reporter and those that have done the research know very little about CUNY or Excelsior.

    1. Excelsior is a last payer. This means that if you are a low income student who receives TAP and or PELL and it covers your tuition then you are not eligible for Excelsior, because all of your tuition is already paid for.

    2. For students who attend CUNY community colleges, most low income students can go free through other mechanisms; College Discovery- meaning that their family income is already low enough where their tuition is being covered by TAP/Pell. Students can also attend CUNY CC through ASAP if you are getting at least $5 in federal or state aid. ASAP will pay the balance of your tuition, book, fees and provide you with a free metro card.

    From reading the study it states the biggest reasons for rejection are as follows:

    Rejected Applications

    The state received 63,599 applications for Excelsior Scholarships, of which 43,513 were denied, a denial rate of 68 percent.

    By far the most commonly cited reason for denial was “not sufficient credits,” which accounted for 36,095 denials, 83 percent of all rejected applications.

    Other cited reasons for denial include

    exceeding the income limit (6 percent),

    TAP application missing (5 percent),

    and non-NY resident (3 percent).


    Looking at those who are rejected:

    By far the most commonly cited reason for denial was “not sufficient credits,” which accounted for 36,095 denials, 83 percent of all rejected applications.

    from HESC


    A recipient of an Excelsior Scholarship is eligible to receive award payments for not more than two years of full-time undergraduate study in a program leading to an associate's degree or 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.

    The goal of the scholarship is for students to get in, complete the requirements for their degree and get out. It does not allow for breaks in your education, or changes in your major if the change means that you will not graduate in 4 years (this is not unreasonable considering that the taxpayers are paying for college).

    Excelsior states the income limit. Unfortunately if your income exceeds, you are not eligible. The current income limit is $110k (yes, I know it seems like no money if you live in high cost areas in NYC and its surrounding areas. However for students who live further up state and families may not be making NYC salaries, it helps their kids).

    People who are non NY residents (I think that is a no brainer)

    TAP application missing- circling back as I stated it is a last payer after TAP. As part of the application process, they ask if you filed the fafsa and applied for TAP (NY State aid)

    I think that Excelsior has been transparent regarding Eligibility for the scholarship (I doubt that people did the reading )
    HESC FAQs wrote:

    Will I be able to attend college at SUNY or CUNY tuition free?

    Yes. If you are a NYS resident whose family household federal adjusted gross income (as filed on your 2016 New York State Income Tax Returns) does not exceed $110,000 for the 2018-19 academic year and [b/you complete 30 credits per year, you will be able to attend a SUNY or CUNY college tuition free.

    Can I get an award if I'm currently going to a public college?

    Yes. Students who are currently attending college are eligible to receive an award, provided they are currently on track to complete their degree on time.

    What does this mean? If you are a returning student, who messed up, exhausted all of your financial aid which takes 4 years to exhaust TAP (5 years if you are a SWD), then you are not eligible for Excelsior.

    Can I reenroll as a first-year student and receive an Excelsior Scholarship if I began college many years ago?

    No. Students who began an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree who are not on-track to complete on time are not eligible to receive an award. Students who began or completed a certificate program and who had a break in attendance before pursuing their associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree are not eligible to receive an award.

    Am I eligible for an award if I changed my major and now need additional time to complete my degree?
    If you are no longer on track to complete an associate’s degree in two years or a bachelor’s degree in four years, you will be ineligible for the award.

    Will the Excelsior Scholarship pay for my summer classes if I attend a summer term to complete my 30 credits?

    No. The Excelsior Scholarship will cover the full-time resident tuition charged by SUNY ($6,470) or the actual tuition charged, whichever is less.

    Can credits that I earned during a summer or winter term be counted towards meeting my 30-credits per year?

    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.

    What if I fail to complete the 30-credit requirement?

    If you fail to complete 30 credits over a 365-day period, the Excelsior Scholarship will cover your first term; however, you will 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.

    Can I regain eligibility if I get back on track after failing to complete 30 credits in a prior year?

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

    Am I eligible to apply if I started college in January 2018 and only completed 12 credits?

    Students who first entered college in January 2018 must have a total of 15 credits to be eligible for fall 2018. Credits can be earned through a combination of classes taken in spring and/or summer and any accepted credits earned in high school applicable to their program of study.

    Credit Catch Up Year

    If I do not have the equivalent of 30 credits per year to be on-track for graduation, can I make them up to qualify?

    Yes, a student who is not on track to complete an Associate’s degree in two consecutive years or Bachelor’s degree in four consecutive years (which requires completion of the equivalent of 30 credits each academic year) can catch up on missing credits to become eligible for an Excelsior Scholarship. If you successfully earn additional credits during a term or an academic year and get back on track to completing your degree on time, you will be eligible to receive an Excelsior Scholarship for the remainder of your undergraduate degree program.

    If you are in an opportunity program, the program allows five years to complete your degree on time (which requires completion of the equivalent of 24 credits each academic year).

    If you are in an undergraduate program of study normally requiring five-years, the program allows five years to complete your degree on time (which requires completion of the equivalent of 30 credits each academic year).

    If you are a student with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the program requires that you complete the credits attempted each semester to fulfill the requirement for on-time degree completion.

    Post edited by sybbie719 on
  • sybbie719sybbie719 Super Moderator Posts: 22,561 Super Moderator
    edited August 2018

    just read a story where it said that approximately 75 percent (and maybe more, much more) of applicants are denied the excelsior scholarship!!

    it's beginning to sound like a pipe dream for most, i'm afraid....maybe a scam according to some.

    hmmmm...comments anybody? would like to hear from the financial aid officers who frequent this board. the NYS senate and assembly should hold hearings and get to the bottom of this...something needs to be changed in the regulations...and fast!!!

    Since the program has just completed it's first year, one of the takeaways from the study is that it seems like there were more students who previously attended college looking for a way to return and go to school with the free tuition than there were first time freshmen.

    Most of these students were rejected because they were not on track to complete a degree (perhaps due to previous SAP issues, exhausting financial aid or other reasons that they did not complete their degree).

    Baker, in your situation, you have had an almost 40 year gap I your education, where you now want to return to school and get Excelsior. During the time that you were in school, you have exhausted all of your TAP, all of your PELL and did not complete a degree.
    The majority of students who were rejected are in your same situation-would you have had a different outcome if you were paying for your own education (I say this as a person who is chronologically your peer, took the long route through undergrad because I lost both of my parents. I tell every one, I had a wonderful time as a day student but learned the true value of an education, working during the day and paying to put myself through nigh classes at CUNY.

    Under the Excelsior guidelines, your situation is exactly the pattern that the state is not looking to repeat. Over the course of 40 years, you could have taken one course at a time and still completed a degree if that really was your goal.

    What changes do you propose needs to happen fast? Why do you think that taxpayers should pay for you to return to school, when they paid the first time and you did not take advantage of the opportunity?
  • brantlybrantly Registered User Posts: 3,689 Senior Member
    edited August 2018
    That media outlet has an agenda.
  • baker101460baker101460 Registered User Posts: 290 Junior Member
    just talked to someone at HESC. they are backed up big time processing applications...wait a few months they said for a decision....jeez....they should have hired more people for this...it will probably resolve itself by january..which means if you are counting from March, that's 10 months....jeez....
  • baker101460baker101460 Registered User Posts: 290 Junior Member
    note to the above...i am a ADA student...i forgot to add..
  • DungareedollDungareedoll Registered User Posts: 986 Member
    I know Im coming late to this discussing and this question may have already been answered but Ill ask anyway.

    When I look at the Net Price Calculator for a school like SUNY Binghamton the total cost of attendance is almost $26K (tuition/fees costing $9300 of that total cost of attendance). Then they allocate almost $15k in unspecified grants and scholarships. Thereby reducing the COA to $11k.
    So now can I still get the Excelsior Scholarship, or is it voided because the $15k more than covers the tuition and fees portion of the total COA?
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 27,512 Senior Member
    @Dungareedoll , if you look up Excelsior scholarships and go to the FAQs, it clearly says that the Excelsior is the last award to be made. It is a financial aid award and therefore, all other monetary awards, including PELL, TAP, and merit awards and scholarships are applied to need first. The Excelsior is to bridge that gap so that full need is met for those families making under certain threshholds.
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