How to Apply for Excelsior Scholarship in the United States 2023/2024 [Full Guide]

Pursuing higher education can be a life-changing experience, but it can also come with a hefty price tag. That’s where scholarships like the Excelsior Scholarship and other forms of fully funded undergraduate scholarships, master’s scholarships, MBA scholarships, and PhD scholarships come in.

In this article, we’ll dive into the details of the Excelsior Scholarship, including eligibility requirements, application procedures, award amounts, and more.

What is the Excelsior Scholarship?

The Excelsior Scholarship is a New York state-funded scholarship program that provides tuition-free education to eligible students attending a SUNY or CUNY two-year or four-year degree program. The program was introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2017 and has since expanded its eligibility criteria.

Eligibility Requirements for Excelsior Scholarship 2023/2024

To be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship, a student must meet the following requirements:

  1. Residency: You must be a resident of New York State and have resided in the state for at least 12 consecutive months before the term’s start.
  2. Citizenship: You must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  3. High School Degree: You must have either graduated from high school in the United States, 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.
  4. Income: Your combined family income (federal adjusted gross income) must not exceed $125,000.
  5. Degree Program: You must be pursuing an undergraduate degree at a SUNY or CUNY college, including statutory colleges at Cornell University and Alfred University.
  6. Enrollment: You must be enrolled in at least 12 credits per term applicable toward your degree program and earn at least 30 credits each year applicable toward your degree program.
  7. Prior College Education: If you have attended college before the academic year for which an award is sought, you must have earned at least 30 credits each year (continuously enrolled) applicable toward your degree program before applying for an Excelsior Scholarship.
  8. Student Loan Status: You must be in a non-default status on a student loan made under any NYS or federal education loan program or on the repayment of any NYS award.
  9. Service Condition: You must be in compliance with the terms of the service condition(s) imposed by a NYS award that you have previously received.
  10. Residency: You must execute a contract agreeing to reside in NYS for the length of time the award was received, and, if employed during such time, be employed in NYS.

Award Amount of Excelsior Scholarship

The Excelsior Scholarship covers any remaining gap in tuition expenditures after other federal and state grants and scholarships have been applied, up to a maximum of $5,500. The scholarship pays any outstanding tuition costs up to a maximum of $5,500, and if a recipient’s tuition expenses exceed the total financial aid given, a tuition credit will be applied to the leftover balance.

To calculate the award amount, first, subtract the tuition rate charged from the total dollar amount received from other student financial aid awards for the academic year, which may include an NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) award and/or a federal Pell grant.

Please note that any award money may have tax implications. Any inquiries about this should be sent to a tax professional, the IRS, or the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.

Application Procedure for Excelsior Scholarship 2023/2024

The application for the Spring 2023 Excelsior Scholarship has passed. The application for the 2023-24 application (attendance in the Fall 2023 semester) will be available in late spring.

To apply for the Excelsior Scholarship, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Excelsior Scholarship application, which is available on the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) website.

The application process requires students to provide personal information, such as their name, address, and social security number, as well as information about their academic history, including their GPA and standardized test scores.

Once the application has been submitted, students will receive an email confirming receipt of their application. They will also be notified if any additional information is required to complete their application. It is essential to check your email regularly after submitting the application to ensure that you do not miss any updates or notifications.

Eligibility Review for Excelsior Scholarship 2023

Students whose current or prior year adjusted gross income is $125,000 or less due to a parent, spouse, or the student’s disability, divorce or separation, or the death of a parent or spouse may request a review of their eligibility by completing the Income Eligibility Determination Form and uploading it to https://www.hesc.ny.gov/ExcelsiorDetermination.

Recipients who fail to complete the annual credit or continuous enrollment requirements due to one of the following reasons may be entitled to keep their Excelsior Scholarship awards. If you fulfil any of the qualifications listed below, please contact your institution to have your eligibility examined. Please keep in mind that paperwork is required. If it is decided that you are eligible for your grant, your school will contact HESC.

You may be able to keep your reward if the following conditions are met:

  • You have experienced the death of a close relative.
  • You have been called to active military service.
  • You take a break from your studies to care for your newborn child (parental leave).
  • Your physician or health care practitioner determines that your medical condition or mental health precludes you from commencing or completing the term, or from continuing to take full-time courses.
  • You pause your studies to care for an immediate family member whose medical or health care professional has assessed that they require more support or care, affecting your ability to start or finish the term or continue a full-time course load.


Please be aware that other than the circumstances listed above, you may not be able to keep your prize under State rules and regulations.

Renewal of the Excelsior Scholarship

The Excelsior Scholarship is renewable for up to four years as long as recipients continue to meet the eligibility requirements. To continue receiving the scholarship, students must maintain good academic standing and complete a certain number of credits each year. The scholarship may be lost if the recipient fails to meet the requirements.

Final Thoughts

The Excelsior Scholarship is an excellent opportunity for eligible New York State residents to pursue their higher education dreams without the burden of tuition expenses. However, due to the limited funding of the program, it is essential to complete the application process as early as possible to increase the chances of receiving the scholarship.

It is crucial to read all information about the Excelsior Scholarship application to guarantee a deep understanding of how the scholarship will be processed. Moreover, students should also explore other scholarships and financial aid opportunities to finance their education fully.

If you have any questions or concerns about the Excelsior Scholarship, you can contact the Scholarship Unit at excelsior@hesc.ny.gov.