Record number of SUNY, CUNY students attending tuition-free thanks to new scholarship

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday, October 1 announced that more than half of all full-time SUNY and CUNY in-state students are going to be receiving full rides with help from the Excelsior Scholarship.

This number takes into consideration students granted the Excelsior Scholarship – the first-in-the-nation program providing cost-free tuition at New York’s public colleges and universities – as well as funds from the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), Pell and other scholarships.

“A college degree now is what a high school diploma was 30 years ago – it is essential to succeed in today’s economy. Our first-in-the-nation Excelsior Scholarship is designed so more New Yorkers go to college tuition-free and receive the education they deserve to reach their full potential,” Cuomo said. “New York leads the nation in creating equal opportunity for all, and we will continue to work to ensure that access to a college degree is not determined by family finances but rather is available to all who work hard and dream big.”

So far, approximately 45,000 students have been deemed eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship and will attend SUNY or CUNY tuition-free this year, including more than 23,000 who will have their tuition covered through TAP, Pell and other financial aid, and nearly 22,000 who will have their remaining tuition costs covered by the scholarship.

According to state officials, the number of students eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship will rise each year until fully implemented (it is being phased in over three years) with the number of award recipients for this year expected also to climb.

There are currently nearly 400,000 full-time in-state SUNY and CUNY students.

For the 2017-18 academic year New Yorkers with household incomes up to $100,000 are eligible, increasing to $110,000 in 2018-19, and reaching $125,000 in 2019-20. Students must be enrolled in college full-time and complete 30 credits per year (including summer and January semesters) in order to receive the funding. However, the program has built-in flexibility so that any student facing hardship is able to pause and restart the program, and all recipients can take fewer credits one semester than another in completing 30 credits per year.

“In affording all low and middle-income New Yorkers access to quality higher education, at no cost, the Excelsior Scholarship ensures that New York and CUNY remain beacons of opportunity,” CUNY Board of Trustees Chairperson William Thompson, Jr. said. “This innovative investment in our students will pay dividends for decades to come and sets a standard for college affordability for the rest of the country to follow.”

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