This April, New York State revealed a new scholarship for residents planning to attend college: The Excelsior Scholarship. Touted as the first scholarship of its type in the country, The Excelsior Scholarship will give students the chance to attend any CUNY or SUNY college in the state absolutely free.
The scholarship, however, comes with a few catches. There are certain guidelines to follow: recipients of this award “must have a family income of $100,000 or less (rises up to $125,000 in three years after issued), file the FASFA application along with the TAP application, and attend full-time college and complete 30 credits per year” (ny.gov). In order to be eligible for the scholarship, awardees must commit to work in New York for the number of years they have receive the scholarship. If awardees do not abide to these rules, however, the award amount for the scholarship turns into a student loan.
As many high school seniors decide to which colleges they should apply, the Excelsior Scholarship brings a new dimension into the application process. Due to the new scholarship, the prospect of going to college absolutely free (excluding boarding and other tuition fees) could be influencing more students to go to college. “The scholarship will definitely increase the number of students going to college in New York because it financially supports career paths, which previously couldn’t be done by low income families. Thus, the scholarship will be very beneficial for families and students in the long run,” said Clodine Lebrun, a Junior at Edison.
Amanda Engel, College Counselor, said that the number of students applying to CUNY and SUNY colleges this year has increased substantially over last year. “This increase in applications to CUNY and SUNY schools could be due to the Excelsior Scholarship, because it gives many students a chance to graduate college absolutely free of payment or debt”, she said.
However, some students believe that the scholarship is a ploy to apply to CUNY and SUNY universities, as Christopher Jerez, a Senior, said. “I feel that that the scholarship is too good to be true, and that there might be a catch later on after graduating. Especially hearing about the risk of it becoming a loan, I don’t think it’s a good option for students planning to apply to these schools.”
Nonetheless, the Excelsior Scholarship is a great way to entice students to apply to college, and the potential rewards are endless for both the beneficiaries of the scholarship and the economy of New York. If you’re thinking about applying for the scholarship, applications will be available online at hesc.ny.gov in June 2018 for students planning to enter a CUNY or a SUNY college in Fall of 2018.