Last summer, more than 75,000 students applied for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship. Applications for fall 2018 scholarships were flying into Albany so quickly, the Higher Education Services Corporation extended the deadline from July to August.
“Colleges and universities throughout The State University of New York and most importantly ― SUNY students ― have embraced the opportunity provided by Governor Cuomo’s first-of-its-kind Excelsior Scholarship Program, and we are proud to welcome the first class of Excelsior Scholars to our campuses this semester,” said SUNY chancellor Kristina Johnson in October.
Now, the Higher Education Services Corporation is currently accepting scholarships applications for the spring 2018 semester, which are due Monday, Dec. 4 for SUNY and City University of New York (CUNY) students who either didn’t initially apply or weren’t accepted for the fall term.
To apply, students must complete the 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid and the Tuition Assistance Program application and submit copies of their transcript and their families’ 2015 state income tax return. Students also must have earned at least 12 credits per semester and 30 per year, been a resident of New York state for at least 12 months prior to applying and be on track to complete a two- or four-year degree.
BU received the third-highest number of awards of all 64 SUNY and 23 CUNY institutions, according to documents obtained from SUNY by Pipe Dream. Buffalo and Albany, with 1,576 and 1,044 scholarships, respectively, took the top two spots. As of last month, 998 BU students had received an award, with 27 percent of students qualifying for the full amount of $5,500.
According to Elizabeth Bibi, deputy director of media relations for Cuomo’s office, the scholarship has helped approximately 22,000 students attend college without paying for tuition.
“New York will continue to work to ensure that access to a college degree is not determined by family finances but rather is available to anyone who chooses to pursue that path,” Bibi wrote in an email.
In October, HESC said the number of SUNY and CUNY students attending college tuition-free had increased by 5 percent from last year.
“In its first year alone, the Excelsior Scholarship is helping thousands of New Yorkers attend college tuition free at SUNY and CUNY schools across the state—something to be celebrated,” Bibi wrote.
This year, only applicants whose family income is $100,000 or less were eligible for the scholarship. That cap is set to rise to $110,000 for the 2018-19 academic year and $125,000 for 2019-20.
“We encourage eligible students to apply for the spring semester, and for the Scholarship in years to come,” Bibi wrote.