Excelsior Scholarship 2023 NYS | Application Process

The Excelsior Scholarship Program is meant to help middle-class families pay for college, encourage students to finish school on time, and lower student debt. Following the application of all other grants and scholarships, this scholarship covers any outstanding tuition costs.

Note that in order to successfully monitor the program, the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) may establish requirements.

When combined with other student aid programs, the Excelsior Scholarship makes it possible for students to go to a SUNY or CUNY college for free. For eligible SUNY and CUNY students, the program pays tuition. Families who made $125,000 or less in the tax year 2020 are eligible to apply for the 2023 academic year.

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More About Excelsior Scholarship – NYS

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The Excelsior Scholarship from the state of New York pays in-state, public college tuition for citizens whose families make less than a predetermined annual income cap: $100,000 in 2017. Depending on whether the student attends a community college or a four-year institution, this translates to an annual savings of between $4,000 and $6,500. Students are responsible for paying the up to $14,000 in additional fees and room and board because the scholarship only covers tuition.

Excelsior students must maintain 30 annual class credits at a state college, such as City University of New York or the State University of New York (SUNY), in order to keep their scholarship (CUNY). A GPA requirement will also be present. Students who obtain an Excelsior scholarship are required to remain in New York after graduation and work there for the specified number of years.

As the Excelsior scholarship program is implemented gradually, the annual income cap will rise (to $110,000 in 2018 and $125,000 in 2019). Around 200,000 people will be eligible when the program is completely implemented.

Excelsior Scholarship
Excelsior Scholarship


  • University: State University of New York (SUNY), City University of New York (CUNY)
  • Award: Fully Funded
  • Location: United States (US)
  • Application deadline –  February 9, 2023 at midnight.

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Application process

Students must complete an application for the Excelsior Scholarship. Students cannot apply until after their FAFSA and NYS applications are processed. Please allow 7-10 days for the FAFSA and NYS applications to be processed before beginning the Excelsior application. Students should plan accordingly to ensure the Excelsior deadline is met.

If you previously received an Excelsior award, no additional action is needed.


The Excelsior Scholarship will provide the recipient with the following benefits:

  • After all federal, state, and institutional grants and scholarships have been applied, the Excelsior Scholarship will cover the remaining tuition expenses up to a maximum of $5,500.
  • The total amount of additional student financial aid awards for the academic year, such as a federal Pell grant and/or a NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) award, is subtracted from the tuition rate* paid before calculating the award amount. The remaining tuition costs up to $5,500 are covered by the Excelsior Scholarship. If a recipient’s tuition costs are more than the total amount of financial help they are given, a tuition credit will be applied to the outstanding amount.
  • *Tuition amounts are based on the resident tuition rate for 2022–2023 levied by SUNY or CUNY ($7,070 or $6,930, respectively).
  • *Please note that receiving an award payment may have tax ramifications. A tax expert, the Internal Revenue Service, or the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance should be contacted with any queries you may have about this.

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To qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship, candidates must fulfill all of the following requirements:

1# General Requirements

  • Complete New York State Application and Federal FAFSA application each academic year (apply in October for the following fall semester)
  • be a resident of NYS and have resided in NYS for 12 continuous months prior to the beginning of the term;
  • be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen;
  • have either graduated from high school in the United States, earned a high school equivalency diploma, or passed a federally approved “Ability to Benefit” test, as defined by the Commissioner of the State Education Department;
  • have a combined federal adjusted gross income of $125,000 or less;
  • be pursuing an undergraduate degree at a SUNY or CUNY college, including community colleges and the statutory colleges at Cornell University and Alfred University;
  • be enrolled in at least 12 credits per term and complete at least 30 credits each academic year, applicable toward their degree program through continuous study with no break in enrollment except for certain reasons that can be documented;
  • if attended college prior to the 2019-20 academic year, have earned at least 30 credits each year (successively), applicable toward their degree program prior to applying for an Excelsior Scholarship;
  • be in a non-default status on a student loan made under any NYS or federal education loan program or on the repayment of any NYS award;
  • be in compliance with the terms of the service condition(s) imposed by any NYS award that you have previously received; and
  • Reside in NYS for the length of time the award was received, and, if employed during such time, be employed in NYS.
  • must have remaining tuition charges after all other grants and scholarships are applied to tuition. 

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2# Academic Requirements

  • Must be working on first bachelor’s degree with no breaks in enrollment.
    • A student that enrolled in college years ago is not eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship if they return to complete their degree.
  • Must earn at least 30 credits per academic year and enroll in at least 12 credit hours per semester
    • Remedial courses (099, 098) do not count toward the student’s 30 earned credit minimum or toward full-time status.
    • Students may enroll in J-Term or summer to meet the 30 credit hour minimum.
  • The Excelsior Scholarship may only be used for the fall and/or spring semesters. 
  • Must complete degree in 4 years
  • If a student fails to meet the academic eligibility requirements, they will lose eligibility for the scholarship permanently. There is an extremely limited appeal process if the student loses eligibility. You can find the Appeal Form here.
  • Students’ eligibility will be certified at the end of each semester.

Note: At the end of each year, Buffalo State must certify that Excelsior-eligible students earned at least 30 credits (24 for EOP students) in the previous year. Additionally, Buffalo State must certify the student’s cumulative (lifetime) earned credits are in accordance with the following chart: 

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Year CompletedRegular StudentsEOP Students
1 (Freshman)3024
2 (Sophomore)6048
3 (Junior)9072
4 (Senior)12096
5 (Senior)na120

How to Apply?

Please follow the following application instructions to apply for the Excelsior Scholarship:

  • This application is for current students and those beginning college in spring 2023. Students who plan to start college for the fall 2023 term should NOT complete this application. The 2023-2024 Excelsior application will open in late spring. Current Excelsior recipients should not complete this application.
  • Applicants who first enrolled in college prior to 2019 or earlier (2018 or earlier if in an approved five-year program or Opportunity Program) are not eligible to apply. Visit https://www.hesc.ny.gov/ pay-for-college/financial-aid/types-of-financial-aid.html to explore other NYS opportunities.


Recipients must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the NYS Student Aid Payment Application every year in order to receive award payments.


  • Excelsior FAQs
  • Monitor HESC for the latest updates and to subscribe to email updates as new details emerge.

Frequently Asked Questions

View commonly asked questions pertaining to the Excelsior Scholarship.


Please contact the Scholarship Unit at excelsior@hesc.ny.gov.

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