Free SUNY Tuition Information

Cayuga Community College will be hosting  Two Excelsior Scholarship Information Sessions this month.

Thursday, May 11  6 p.m. Fulton Campus F 167

Thursday, May 18, 6 p.m. Auburn Campus  Admissions Office, M 265

Cayuga Community College is giving families an opportunity to learn more about New York State’s first-in-the-nation program that will grant free SUNY tuition to qualified students. The Excelsior Scholarship will be phased in by New York State over the next three years. It will be available this fall for households making up to $100,000 annually; up to $110,000 in 2018, and up to $125,000 in 2019 and beyond.

Call 866-598-883  or e-mail for more information on these sessions.

Finger Lakes Community College will also be hosting  an information sessions this month. 

Wednesday, May 10: Geneva Campus Center, 63 Pulteney St., Room 137

The information session runs from 6 to 7 p.m. and participants are welcome to stay for a FAFSA completion workshop from 7 to 9 p.m. Those staying for the workshop should bring parents' and students' 2015 income tax returns, if they file. FAFSA workshop participants should get a federal student aid ID before attending by clicking here.

Seating is limited. Register for the workshops at (585) 785-1276 or email to

Excelsior Scholarship Information

The Excelsior Scholarship builds on current financial aid grants, such as TAP, Pell, and scholarships. After these sources are added together, the Excelsior Scholarship covers whatever is needed to pay full tuition.

Scholarship Details

Financial Aid

No one's financial aid will go down. Some students will find they are eligible for more aid through the Excelsior Scholarship. Since the Excelsior Scholarship covers tuition only, students who already have tuition fully covered through TAP or Pell will not qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship. This program will make the greatest difference for students with higher family incomes who pay at least some of their own tuition out-of-pocket or with loans.

Application Process

All current financial aid and potential additional aid through Excelsior hinges on completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Students who have not filled out the 2017-18 FAFSA should do so as soon as possible. In addition to filing a FAFSA and TAP application, students will also need to file an Excelsior Scholarship application. Higher Education Services Corporation expects the application to be available in late May 2017 with an expected deadline for submission in late July.

New York State Residency

The Excelsior Scholarship program falls under the general award rules, as such applicants must be a NYS resident to be eligible for the scholarship, and they must meet the same requirements for citizenship as for TAP.

Post-Graduation Residency

Students must agree to live in New York State for a continuous number of years equal to the duration of the award received. There is no requirement that the student be employed during that period, but they cannot work in another state. If a student fails to meet these requirements, the award will be converted to a student loan. HESC has advised that the loan will not include interest.

Loan Information

The scholarship does not revert to a loan if the student becomes ineligible and loses the scholarship during their undergraduate work prior to graduation. The Excelsior Scholarship only applies to students pursuing an associate or bachelor's degree, not certificates.

Regaining Eligibility

Students cannot regain eligibility if they lose the scholarship during their undergraduate work. There are some allowable interruptions listed in the statute and we anticipate more information will be detailed in regulation.

Information on Tuition and Tuition-Credit


The undergraduate tuition charged by the campus to recipients of the Excelsior Scholarship cannot exceed the tuition rate for the 2016-17 academic year. However, there will be a tuition reset in the 2021-22 academic year and every four years thereafter. The statute indicates that upon notification of an Excelsior award, the campus shall defer tuition.


As with Pell and TAP, prior prior year (PPY) adjusted gross income (AGI) will be used. Combined family income reported on the federal income tax return for the calendar year coinciding with the tax year established by the Department of Education will qualify applicants for federal financial aid programs authorized by Title IV. For the 2017-18 academic year, applicants will report the 2015 AGI. There is no provision for household size or other family members in college impacting the income threshold for the Excelsior Scholarship program.

HESC will be verifying AGI through NYS Tax and Finance. Pell, TAP, and the tuition credit must be applied first.

GPA and Earned Credits

According to HESC, recipients must earn a passing grade in their coursework to maintain the scholarship. HESC regulations may give more detail regarding the time-frame for certification and what constitutes a passing grade, especially as it relates to programs that require a specified grade (e.g. 'C' or better) in a course.

Continuing students who qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship must have successfully attained 30 credit hours in the previous year prior to the start of the school year to be eligible. Students must be enrolled for a minimum of 12 credit hours in a semester. FLCC will notify current FLCC students who may qualify for an Excelsior Scholarship if they need summer school to attain the required 30 credits. Recipients may use intercessions and summer terms in accumulating 30 credits within the year. The Excelsior award will be based on a maximum of $5,500 as an annual payment.

In addition to the Excelsior Scholarship, there is also a part-time scholarship that offers part-time students up to $1,500 as long as they take between six and twelve credits and maintain a 2.0 GPA.

Header/Trailer Summer Term

HESC has advised that the tracking of credits is individual by student. Therefore, depending on the start date for students (header or trailer), you may use the credits from the prior or subsequent term.

Multiple Programs of Study/Double Majors

Credits can count from multiple programs/majors.

Credits Earned in High School

Credits earned in high school can count toward the combined 30 credits (if they are accepted toward the incoming student's program of study).

Tuition Credit

Campuses are required to continue to provide for the tuition credit associated with the TAP award. This tuition credit was not absorbed by the Excelsior Scholarship award.

There is an additional requirement that campuses must provide a tuition credit to fill the gap between tuition and the Excelsior award (or combination of awards when Excelsior is applied) capped at $5,500 ($6,470 - $5,500 = $970 excelsior tuition credit).


The Excelsior Scholarship program falls under the general award rule. As such, applicants must meet the same requirements for citizenship as for TAP.

Allowable Interruptions & Deferments of Post-Graduated Requirements

Excelsior Scholarship awards are limited to the length of the program (2-year, 4-year, and approved 5-year). HESC will define allowable interruptions and deferments of post-graduation requirements in regulation. The law allows for interruptions, including but not limited to a death of a family member, medical leave, military service, and parental leave. HESC has indicated post-graduate deferrals for residing in NYS will include military service and graduate school. Students who have previously completed an associate or bachelor's degree are not eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship.

Additional Information

The Excelsior Scholarship is administered by Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC). Additional information, including a scholarship alert form and Frequently Asked Questions, can be found on their website. In addition, the State University of New York (SUNY) also has information on the Excelsior Scholarship. Details about this exciting new scholarship are still emerging, and we will share information here as it becomes available. To receive email notifications of updates to this page, please fill out this form.