NYS Excelsior

Hello. My son goes to a community college. His program 5 semesters (fall, spring, summer, fall, spring). When Covid hit last spring, his college finished up the spring semester but all in-person summer 2020 classes were canceled and essentially his program was pushed back a semester because his summer classes were labs and they could not be completed. He remained in a 1 credit class that was not in person during summer 2020. The fall semester went fine but the Spring 2021 semester he has only 10 credits that are required for his program. FA office said that he is not eligible for Excelsior or TAP because he does not have at least 12 credits in his program. He is registered for 16 credits but only 10 of them are in his program. He cannot take anymore in his program in the spring 2020 because everything is sequential, meaning he has to complete these spring courses first before he can move to the next courses. The FA director says this is a NYS thing and there is not much they can do. Has anyone else dealt with this?

@sybbie719 your thoughts?

We’re NYS residents so I have some knowledge of TAP and Excelsior. Sybbie719 knows a lot. I expect she’ll show up soon.

Have you checked the NYS HESC (Higher Education Services Corp) website to verify current requirements? They’re usually good about posting the requirements.

The NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) does require 12 credits that apply to the degree program per semester. I think if you have a gap and don’t qualify for TAP one semester you can still be eligible the next semester.

The Excelsior Grant also has a credit minimum, but once you lose the Excelsior you don’t get it back unless you make up the missed credits. That can be tough to do.

What kind of program is your son in? Can he take one course this semester that you pay for out of pocket that would allow him to take 12 credits in his major this fall?

The goal is that you are taking what you need to complete your degree, get in and get out. there is no room for exploration. The financial aid director is correct, nothing that they can do about it.

If he does not want to lose the money, he needs to make sure that he has credits toward his degree. He should meet with his advisor to make sure at lease 12 of those 16 credits are toward his degree. He may need to drop something and add something else or add an additional class to make sure that he has 12 credits toward his degree. if he does not want to change his program, to make sure he is in compliance, they you will have to write your check or he will be taking out his $6500 lean (if he has not done so yet).

Depending on what school he attends, the spring term starts Monday at some schools, and the first week in February at others.


Catching Up on Credits

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 to apply for an Excelsior Scholarship. If you successfully earn additional credits during a term or academic year and get back on track to completing your degree on time, you may reapply to be eligible to receive an Excelsior Scholarship for the remainder of your undergraduate degree program.

Once he loses his Excelsior, there is no appeal process and the odds will not be in his favor to get the money back (especially because the state is in a financial crunch).

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That’s exactly the problem. He is on track. Had it not been for COVID he’d be graduating in May. His entire summer 2020 schedule was canceled by the school due to COVID since those classes were in person lecture/lab combinations. The summer courses were moved to fall 2020 plus 2 liberal arts course which gave him 15 credit hours for the fall. That LA course was supposed to be taken in the spring 2021 to get him to 13 credit hours which would have “saved” his Excelsior and TAP eligibility. He has 20 credits left and his program is such that 10 credit hours (2 classes) are pre-reqs for the other 10 credit hours (2 classes). His advisor made all these schedule changes so now it seems that his eligibility is all messed up.

I have a similar problem that I am still working with the community college. My son already transferred to RIT this school year and he was short of 8 credits to fulfill the 30 credit requirement for the school year 2019-2020 for a two-year undergrad program. They billed us $1600+ bec of this which was for the spring semester 2020. I called the HESCNY line for assistance and told me to call the community college my son attended. I reached out by phone two times and by email once and have not heard from them. Make a phone appointment with the state then proceed to contacting the cc financial aid office or advisor. I will let you know what’s the outcome on ours. Good luck!

There are no other courses he can take because he’s nearing completion. He has 4 course left in his program and 2 are pre reps for the other 2. So he only has 10 credits for spring and 10 credits for summer

I made a phone appointment with HESC but the first opening wasn’t until 2/10. MCC FA office isn’t much help at this point. And to make matters worse one of the instructors “forgot” to open one of the modules so the entire cohort had to take an Incomplete for that course and now the students have until the end of Spring 2021 to complete it. So not sure if that will create other problems.

What’s your son’s major? Can he change to something close that gives him enough wiggle room to get the 12 credits he needs for TAP? If not, is he near the 30 credits/year he needs for the Excelsior like @kpopmomrunner’s son? Before Covid students had until the end of the academic year to make up the credits (I think it’s June 30th, but you’d have to check). But you have to pay out of pocket and hope to get reimbursed. Students can also file an appeal for special circumstances, but it’s a long, drawn out process. Without knowing the program or the number of credits normally required it’s tough to know if you have anything to base an appeal on.

He needs to complete the incomplete ASAP. The sooner he completes it, the sooner he gets a grade and credit. I understand, that students get complacent, with the I have until the end of the term, procrastinate and then want to submit work at the last minute (which is usually not their best work). No one is going to care about he reason for the incomplete (if the professor forgot a module or if your son was missing work. They are going to simply manage the facts; he is short on credit.

You would be surprised at the number of students who get caught up in incomplete grades and end up failing.
One of my former students was in his last semester in his grad program(spring 2020), got an incomplete (missed his graduation).
The incomplete was due this term. Procrastinated, and project he turned in was abysmal (when I read it, he deserved every bit of that F) and failed and now has to appeal to stay in the to finish the course in the spring.

If you have to do battle with HESC, it is not in your son’s best interest to show that he is not making progress. I would strongly recommend that he gets this module done, grade submitted and on his transcript, when you meet with them on 2/10 (yes, he has to buckle down and sacrifice some time).

I am also getting conflicting information as to whether AP courses can be used to fill in credits or if other courses outside the declared major can be used. The thing is when everything was switched to remote learning, I had a bad feeling about my son’s ability to focus via remote. He just doesn’t thrive in that kind of setting so he lost interests late part of the spring semester and during summer.

Did the community college document the AP credit on your son’s transcript?

While HESC does not talk about AP credit, they do talk about dual-enrollment/college courses taken in HS


An Excelsior Scholarship recipient is deemed to be in full-time attendance if he or she is enrolled in at least 12 credits per semester and completes at least 30 combined credits per year (applicable to his/her program[s] of study) following the student’s start date, or its equivalent.

As you are aware, students may use “banked” college credits that were earned while a high school student or in another non*matriculated status to fulfill the annual 30-credit requirement. Students can also meet the full-time attendance requirement as follows:

Students Enrolled in Fewer than 12 Credits Per Semester

The regulations governing the Excelsior Scholarship program authorizes that a recipient may use college credits earned while a high school student or while in another non-matriculated status towards his/her enrollment in 12 credits per semester.

Students Enrolled in Coursework Not Applicable Towards Their Program of Study

For a recipient who earned college credits toward his or her program(s) of study while in high school or while a non-matriculated student and who is making satisfactory progress toward timely completion of his or her program(s) of study, and is enrolled in coursework not applicable toward his or her program(s) of study, such coursework outside of his or her program(s) of study shall be considered as contributing toward full-time attendance.

Consequently, when certifying your Excelsior Scholarship recipients, students who meet either of these conditions should be deemed to meet the definition of full-time attendance. The Excelsior Scholarship award amount should be calculated based on the 2016-17 annual tuition rate, but should not exceed the actual tuition charged.


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Unfortunately, he cannot change his major - Automotive Technology so all of the classes are extremely specific to the program and not readily transferable except to another auto program at a different school. And every one must be taken in a specific sequence except the LA classes. He defintely has the # of credits needed to maintain - right now he has 45 credits (fall 2019 13.cr, Spring 2020 15.5cr, Summer 2020 1.0cr = 28.5). The FA office granted him an exception for having less than the 30cr having been screwed over on the number of credits by how his advisor scheduled him). This is beyond ridiculous the hoops that he/we must jump through for Excelsior and TAP, especially when he has done everything in his power to stay on track and all of the issues stem from factors beyond his control. IMO, seems that the NY should revisit TAP and Excelsior in terms of how it’s applied him the COVID world we now live in.

I see that there is an Appeals process on the HESC website for Excelsior. The form has an option for “OTHER”. Have you any knowledge on the Appeals process? Chances of success?
I did not see anythign for TAP, however.

We had to appeal the Excelsior Grant when one of my kiddos was placed into a remedial English class by mistake. It was their first semester of college so by the time they realized it was a remedial class and got it dropped it was too late to add another class. It was just after the grant came out, so we were just learning about it and so was our financial aid office.

We lost the grant because the course wasn’t required for the major and it made the total credits < 12, but we appealed because we felt the mistake made on the part of the school was outside our control. We had to supply paperwork to prove our case (emails from the advisor stating the class was required, course description that specified the placement test score required for the class, kiddos placement test scores which were well above the range for the class, etc).

It took months and we had to pay out of pocket while the appeal processed. We were successful, but this was pre-Covid. I don’t know if they’ll be more strict given the current economic situation. But it doesn’t hurt to try.

We did not even made the appeal. The only thing I’m trying to work out with cc, that’s is if they respond to me, is if they would consider any of my son’s AP and credits from current school.