The Excelsior Scholarship

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

Through New York State’s Excelsior Scholarship program, middle-class families are eligible to earn tuition benefits. The goal is to ensure that New York’s students have access to a quality education and the skills they need to succeed.

Please visit the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation website for the most current information.

Learn more about the Excelsior Scholarship

Eligibility requirements

  • Family household adjusted gross income must not exceed $125,000 
  • New York State residency
  • Full-time enrollment in at least 12 credits per term applicable towards your degree 
  • Completion of at least 30 credits each year applicable towards your degree 
  • Good academic standing
  • Graduate on time with a bachelor’s degree in four years (8 consecutive terms)

Apply for the Excelsior Scholarship

Visit the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation's website to learn more about the program.

Excelsior Scholarship FAQs

When can I apply for the award?

Please consult the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation website for the most current application dates and deadlines.

Do I need to reapply each year? 

Excelsior scholarship recipients are required to complete the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) application each year, but do not need to recomplete the Excelsior Scholarship application after they have been found to be eligible originally.

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 the full cost of tuition from the Excelsior Scholarship, minus any amounts received for federal or NYS grants or other scholarships. 

Can I use my family's current income if it makes me eligible for the award? 

If you were notified that you are ineligible because your household federal adjusted gross income (AGI) is greater than $125,000, you may be eligible to use your current income to establish income eligibility if your income was adversely affected due to:

  • disability
  • divorce or legal separation of the applicant, parent or spouse
  • death of a parent or spouse

To request a review of your eligibility, complete the Income Eligibility Determination form and submit to NYS electronically

Are current SUNY Cortland students eligible for the award?

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

Can I receive the Excelsior Scholarship as 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 applicable towards their degree program 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?

Yes, students can lose the scholarship if they do not maintain continuous full-time enrollment in at least 12 credit hours per term and complete 30 credits per year to continue to receive the scholarship. Credits must be applicable towards the student's degree program.

If I lose the Excelsior Scholarship, can I get it back? 

You may be eligible to appeal the loss of the Excelsior Scholarship if your break in enrollment or reduction in credits occurred as a result of one of the following:

  • You experience the death of an immediate family member.
  • You are called to active military duty.
  • You interrupt your studies to take care of your newborn child (parental leave).
  • Your medical or health care provider determines that your medical condition or mental health prevents you from beginning or continuing the term or from continuing a full-time course load. 
  • You interrupt your studies to provide care for an immediate family member who needs extra care due to health needs, as confirmed by their medical or health care provider.
  • You have a disability under the ADA and are registered with the SUNY Cortland Disability Resource Office.

Circumstances other than those indicated above will not allow you to retain your award. To appeal the loss of an Excelsior Scholarship, students must complete and submit the Excelsior Scholarship Eligibility Appeal form with supporting documentation. 

What if I am not able to complete 30 credits due to a disability?

If you have a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and have registered with the SUNY Cortland Disability Resources Office, you can retain your Excelsior Scholarship if your disability requires you attend less than full-time, or take a break in enrollment. 

ADA students will only receive Excelsior Scholarship funding if they successfully complete the number of credits for which they are enrolled (in their program of study) at the point of 100% tuition liability. 

Can credits earned in high school be counted towards meeting the 30 credit per year requirement? 

Yes, college credits earned while in high school can be applied in a manner that results in 30 cumulative credits per year. 

Can credits earned during summer or winter term be counted toward the 30 credit per year requirement? 

Yes, credits earned during summer and winter terms will be applied toward the 30 credit per year requirement. However, students are not eligible to receive Excelsior Scholarship payments during summer or winter terms. 

What if in my final year I need less than 30 credits to graduate?

Students in their final two terms prior to graduation need to enroll in 12 credits each term but do not need to meet the 30 credit per year requirement. 

  • For the term prior to the final term, only six credits need to be applicable to the student's degree program.
  • For the final term, only one class needs to be applicable to the student's degree program. 

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

Yes, provided the university 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  degree?

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 Bldg, Room 209
P.O. Box 2000
Cortland, NY 13045
Phone: 607-753-4717
Fax: 607-753-5990