Free College Tuition in New York

Pump your breaks New York City!!! It's no denying that the Excelsior Scholarship is a paramount move by Governor Cuomo. Making CUNY and SUNY colleges affordable is a step in the right direction that will prompt other states to follow our footsteps. Cuomo's goal is to make college, what public high school is now, FREE. To even be qualified for the best jobs available, employers are requiring prospective hires to have some college education. Employers have put an emphasis on higher education and the city has adapted accordingly. This will influence the number of students going to, returning to, or transferring to a CUNY or SUNY college.

Before the confetti comes raining down and the champagne pops, let's break down the Excelsior Scholarship and see what we are dealing with.

College debt continues to be a nationwide issue and Governor Cuomo has found a way to soften the burden for New Yorkers. To be eligible for this scholarship, here are some key requirements:

  • United States citizen or permanent resident 
  • Family must make up to $100,000 per year (raising to $125,000 by 2019)
  • Family must reside in New York for 1 year prior to enrolling
  • Pursuit of an undergraduate degree (associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Sorry graduates) 

The Excelsior Scholarship is considered a “last dollar” program. What this means is that other financial awards and grants must be applied first and the scholarship will cover the remaining costs. Students can receive up to $5,500 towards tuition costs.Here is a breakdown of the costs:

I find that for every deal that seems to be too good, there’s always a catch. As I mentioned earlier, this scholarship will be a step in the right direction and certainly have a hand in boosting the job market in New York. Be aware of some the key obligations for the Excelsior Scholarship:

  • Maintain a full-time schedule (30 credits per year)
  • Students are responsible for the cost of school fees, textbooks, room and board
  • Live and work in New York following your graduation for length of time you participated in the program

This scholarship has received some heavy criticism for the obligations students must abide by. The intent of the scholarship is to have students complete their undergraduate degrees on time. For those pursuing an associate’s degree it must be completed in 2 years and students are given 4 years to complete a bachelor’s degree. After the completion of your undergraduate degree, there is a residency requirement. You must reside and work in New York for the length you participated in the program.

I believe it will be very difficult for students to maintain the 30 credits per year. Nowadays students are working while still in school making the time to graduate college longer than expected. Also, the residency requirement is something to think about. Being restricted to New York will put a damper on students who have intentions on pursuing a master’s degree in another state. You will risk your scholarship turning into a loan if this requirement isn’t fulfilled.

Below you will find some additional information answering any specific questions you may have. The deadline to apply is July 21st. Now you know, What Now?


Helpful Links: CUNY & SUNY