Excelsior Scholarship

SUNY Excelsior Scholarship at OCC

The Excelsior scholarship provides tuition-free college at New York’s public colleges and universities to families making up to $110,000 a year!

As part of the SUNY system, Onondaga Community College is part of this new scholarship program.

New Students and First Time Excelsior Scholarship Applicants

The Excelsior Scholarship application for the 2018-19 academic year is now open for new applicants.

Application Deadline: July 23, 2018

To apply for the scholarship you need to: 

  1. Visit the HESC website and review the full eligibility requirements
  2. Complete the FAFSA and TAP application
  3. Complete the Excelsior application on the HESC website 

Current Excelsior Scholarship Recipients

Current Excelsior Scholarship recipients should not complete this application. If you first received an award for the 2017-18 academic year, no additional action is needed for the 2018-19 academic year. However, an Excelsior Scholarship recipient must annually complete:

Application Deadline: July 23, 2018


Frequently Asked Questions 

What is covered by the Excelsior Scholarship?

The program would cover tuition for eligible SUNY and CUNY students. Resident undergraduate tuition at SUNY’s four-year colleges is currently $$6,670. SUNY community college tuition is currently for $4,520, on average. Tuition at Onondaga Community College for the 2017-18 academic year is $4,570 per year (12 or more credits) and $190 per credit hour for part-time (11 credits or less).

The Excelsior Scholarship program does not cover the other costs of attending college, which include but are not limited to fees, residence halls, transportation, textbooks, meal plans, and more. See more details on these costs.

What are the requirements for students?

An applicant must:

  • be a resident of New York State (NYS) and have resided in NYS for 12 continuous months prior to the beginning of the term
  • be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • 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
  • have a combined federal adjusted gross income of $110,000 or less
  • be pursuing an undergraduate degree at a SUNY or CUNY college, including community colleges and the statutory colleges at Cornell University and Alfred University
  • be enrolled in at least 12 credits per term and complete at least 30 credits each year (successively), applicable toward his or her degree program
  • if attended college prior to the 2018-19 academic year, have earned at least 30 credits each year (successively), applicable toward his or her degree program prior to applying for an Excelsior Scholarship
  • 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
  • be in compliance with the terms of the service condition(s) imposed by a NYS award that you have previously received
  • 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.

Am I eligible to apply if I started college in January 2018 and only completed 12 credits?

Students who first entered college in January 2018 must have a total of 15 credits to be eligible for fall 2018. Credits can be earned through a combination of classes taken in spring and/or summer and any accepted credits earned in high school applicable to their program of study.

What are the residency requirements for the Excelsior Scholarship Program?

Residency requirements are expected to be the same as requirements for other New York State financial aid programs.  

What other resources are available to students to alleviate the costs of college?

All students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which is used to determine eligibility for federal and New York State (NYS) financial aid programs, including the NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).  Get more information here. Completion of the FAFSA each year is required in order to be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship Program and all state and federal financial aid programs.

Is it possible for students to lose their Excelsior Scholarship?

Yes. Students must be New York State residents, matriculated in a degree or certificate program, enrolled in college full-time and average 30 credits per year (including Summer and January semesters) in order to receive the funding. This requirement on students will encourage on-time degree completion. However, the program has built in flexibility so that students facing documented hardships are able to pause and restart the program, or take fewer credits one semester than another.

Will any exceptions be made for part-time students, students in opportunity programs or those with disabilities?

Yes. As with the TAP grants, students with disabilities will not be required to register full-time to be eligible for the scholarship. Students with disabilities should contact the Office of Accessibility Resources at Onondaga Community College upon enrollment. If you are a student with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Excelsior Scholarship program requires that you be continuously enrolled and complete the number of credits you attempted each semester to fulfill the requirement for on-time degree completion. If you have not earned credits for all courses attempted, you can catch up on missing credits if you successfully earn additional credits during a Summer and/or Winter session(s) and get back on track for credits that were not previously completed.

If you are in an opportunity program, the Excelsior Scholarship program allows five years to complete your degree on time (which requires completion of the equivalent of 24 credits each academic year).

I was deemed ineligible for the Excelsior Scholarship. Can I appeal?  

Yes. Students who are determined to be ineligible for failure to meet the annual credit or continuous enrollment requirements and who can demonstrate good cause may appeal the decision by completing and submitting the  Excelsior Scholarship Program Appeal Form to  Excelsior.Appeals@hesc.ny.gov