New Yorkers — the Excelsior Scholarship is accepting applications for Spring 2021

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Here’s some welcome news for New Yorkers — applications for the Excelsior Scholarship spring 2021 is now open until Feb. 11, 2021.

By U2B Staff 

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It’s time to ring in 2021 with some good news — New York’s Higher Education Services Corporation has restored the Excelsior Scholarship, which allows students from households earning under US$125,000 to attend state and city colleges tuition-free.  

Under the programme, students can attend SUNY (State University of New York) or CUNY (City University of New York) college tuition-free. SUNY is the largest comprehensive university system in the US and has 64 institutions, while CUNY has 25 colleges spread across New York City’s five boroughs.

The state’s HESC notes that COVID-19 “has dramatically reduced state revenues and the processing of new applications is pending on Federal assistance, which has been delayed since April. Excelsior Scholarship awards may have to be reduced and/or prioritised for current recipients as provided for under the programme.”

The scholarship was introduced by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, and has benefited 30,000 students since it was announced in 2017.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re eager to apply:


Among the requirements to apply for the Excelsior Scholarship include:

  • be a resident of New York State and have resided in NYS for 12 continuous months prior to the beginning of the term
  • be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • have either graduated from high school in the US, 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
  • be pursuing an undergraduate degree at a SUNY or CUNY college, including community colleges and the statutory colleges at Cornell University and Alfred University;

Check the full eligibility here.

What is the award amount?

Scholarship recipients may receive up to US$5,500. 

“To determine the award amount, the 2016-17 resident tuition rate charged by SUNY (US$6,470) or CUNY (US$6,330) will be reduced by the amount of certain other student financial aid awards which an applicant has or will receive for the academic year, including a NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) award and/or federal Pell grant. The Excelsior Scholarship will cover any remaining tuition liability up to US$5,500; and a tuition credit will cover any remaining tuition expenses not covered by the Excelsior Scholarship,” said NYS 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 programme leading to an associate’s degree or four years of full-time undergraduate study, or five years if the programme of study normally requires five years, in a programme leading to a bachelor’s degree.


Spring 2021 application is now available through Feb. 11, 2021.