Excelsior Scholarship spring application now available

Students who missed the fall deadline can apply for the Excelsior Scholarship online

Students can now apply for the spring semester’s Excelsior Scholarship. The application is available online until Dec. 4.

The scholarship application is for eligible students who missed the fall application deadline; those already receiving the scholarship do not need to apply.

The Excelsior Scholarship, in addition to federal and state aid packages, allows students to attend SUNY or CUNY colleges and universities tuition-free. To be eligible for the award, students must have taken 30 credit hours in the prior year. They must also come from a household making less than $100,000 a year. Governor Andrew Cuomo said the income cap will be raised gradually to include more students.

More than 1,500 UB students received money through the Excelsior award this semester. Director of Financial Aid John Gottardy estimates students will receive approximately $2.9 million in Excelsior aid by the end of the fall semester. That’s $1,933 spent on average per person.

Gottardy said it is premature to fully evaluate the program’s success, but the program has received “very positive feedback” from students and parents.

The scholarship is a “last-dollar” award, which to some students, has led to confusion in how the money is distributed.

Gottardy explained that to determine the amount of the Excelsior award, Financial Aid first reduces the tuition award by other grants and scholarships that a student may be receiving for the academic year.

These include the NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) award, Federal Pell Grant and other grants and scholarships not exclusively earmarked for expenses other than tuition.

“Students may be receiving another grant or scholarship that causes a reduction in their Excelsior Scholarship amount,” Gottardy said. “Another reason may be that students may be looking at both tuition and fees. Fees are not covered under the Excelsior program.”

“I think those that feel the program is misleading are relatively few since this program has had such a positive impact on so many New York residents from across the state,” he said.

Students can apply for the spring semester online.

Sarah Crowley is the senior news editor and can be reached at sarah.crowley@ubspectrum.com