The Excelsior Scholarship

Affordable excellence has long been the cornerstone of a SUNY Cortland education.

And now, through New York State’s Excelsior Scholarship program, more middle-class families will be eligible to earn free tuition at the College. The first-of-its-kind plan will be phased in over three years, beginning for New Yorkers making up to $100,000 annually in the fall of 2017, increasing to $110,000 in 2018, and reaching $125,000 in 2019.

The goal is to ensure that New York’s students have access to a quality education and the skills they need to succeed.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Family household adjusted gross income, as filed on 2015 federal tax returns, must not exceed $100,000
  • New York State residency
  • Earn 30 credits per year and make progress towards graduation
  • Good academic standing
  • Graduate on time with a bachelor’s degree in four years

Apply for the Excelsior Scholarship

The deadline for the Excelsior Scholarship Program was July 21, 2017. Please check back this fall for updates regarding the application period for spring 2018, or visit the NYS Higher Education Services Corporation's website to learn more about the program.

Excelsior Scholarship FAQs

When can I apply for the award?

The application for Fall 2017 will stay open from Wednesday, June 7, to Friday, July 21. 

What does it mean to be a New York State resident for the purposes of this award?

To be considered a New York State resident for purposes of receiving this award, you must have resided in New York for 12 continuous months prior to the term for which the award is being sought.

How much can I receive from the Excelsior Scholarship?

An Excelsior Scholarship recipient can receive up to $5,500 from the Excelsior Scholarship, minus any amounts received for TAP, Pell or other scholarships. The remainder of your tuition charge will be covered through a tuition credit paid through SUNY.

Will I be able to get an award for Fall 2017?

Yes. Eligible SUNY Cortland students will receive awards this fall.

How much income can my family earn to be eligible for the award?

For the 2017-18 academic year, your federal household adjusted gross income can total up to $100,000 to be eligible. For 2018-19, that amount increases to $110,000, and beginning in 2019-20 and beyond, your family’s adjusted gross income can total up to $125,000.

Are current SUNY Cortland students eligible for the award?

Yes. Students who are currently attending the College are eligible to receive an award, provided they are currently on track to complete their degree on time.

Can I receive the Excelsior Scholarship if I’m a transfer student?

A student who transfers to SUNY Cortland is eligible for an Excelsior Scholarship if he or she is on track to complete his or her degree on time.

How long can I receive the award?

You are eligible to get an award for up to four years for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Students in an undergraduate program of study normally requiring five years are eligible to receive the award for five years.

Do I need a certain grade point average to receive or keep the award?

Award recipients need to earn a passing grade to maintain their Excelsior Scholarship and they must earn a total of 30 credits over the course of a year. Recipients may have other awards which also carry academic standards that differ from those required for the Excelsior Scholarship.

Is it possible to lose the Excelsior Scholarship after I receive it?

Students can lose the scholarship if they do not continue to meet all of the eligibility requirements. For example, they must enroll in at least 12 credits per term and complete 30 credits per year to continue to receive the scholarship.

If I completed my associate’s degree, can I receive this award to earn a SUNY Cortland degree?

Yes, provided the College has accepted all of the credits you earned in completing your associate’s degree and you meet all other requirements for the Excelsior Scholarship.

Are there other requirements that I must meet after I complete my degree?

Yes. You must live in New York State for the number of years equal to awards you received. For example, if you received four Excelsior Scholarship awards while earning your bachelor’s degree, you must live in New York State for four years after college. In addition, if you are working during those years, you must work in New York State. Failure to meet these requirements will result in the conversion of your award to a loan.

I already earned a bachelors degree. Can I receive the scholarship to pursue a second one?

Applicants who have an associate’s degree are eligible to pursue a bachelor’s degree. However, you may not receive an award to pursue a second associate’s or a second bachelor’s degree.

Contact Us

Financial Aid Office
Miller Building, Room 205
P.O. Box 2000
Cortland, NY 13045
Phone: 607-753-4717
Fax: 607-753-5990

Hours: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.