SUNY Sullivan is participating in the Excelsior Scholarship program – a state aid program approved under Governor Cuomo’s Free-Tuition Plan for New York State students whose families make less than $125,000/year (AGI on 2017 tax return) and pursue an Associate or Bachelor’s degree, and earn 30 credits each year. Here are important facts about this program:

Excelsior Scholarship Program

The 2020-21 New York State Excelsior Scholarship application will be released on Monday, July 20, 2020 and will be open until August 31, 2020. HESC provided the following update on the handling of student applications. HESC will process student applications, including completing income verification process (IVP) with NYS Taxation and Finance, and will forward credit verification files to campuses beginning next week. New student award notifications will be held, as such, new student awards will not be reflected on the Student Status Listing (SSL) until funding is confirmed. SSL’s with returning scholarship recipients will continue without disruption and, if necessary, funding priority will be given to those recipients.

To ensure that new applicants understand that funding is not guaranteed, HESC has advised that applicants will see the following or similar message when they submit an Excelsior Scholarship application:

“As you are aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically reduced state revenues and the State is contending with a devastating revenue loss amounting to $61 billion over four years. In light of this, the processing of new Excelsior Scholarship applications is pending Federal assistance, which has been delayed since April. In the absence of multi-year federal funding for New York State awards, Excelsior Scholarship awards may have to be reduced and/or prioritized for current recipients, as provided for under the program.”


If I am interested in the scholarship, what are my next steps?

  1. File your FAFSA at
  2. Continue to the NYS TAP application and complete.
  3. Apply for the Excelsior Scholarship at

How do other forms of scholarships and financial aid affect the Excelsior Scholarship?

If you receive a federal or NYS grant or scholarship, including a federal Pell Grant, a NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) grant, scholarships for tuition or scholarships not designated for other costs, you must use those first. After those forms of aid are applied, the Excelsior Scholarship will cover the remaining cost of tuition.

What about other expenses such as room & board, books, etc.?

The Excelsior Scholarship covers tuition only. You would be responsible for college fees and other costs such as room and board.

What about credits earned in high school?

Credits earned in high school may count toward the annual 30 credit hour requirement if they are accepted toward your program of study.

What if I don’t earn 30 credit hours toward my degree?

Eligibility will be reviewed every semester. If you do not earn 30 credit hours each year you will lose the Excelsior Scholarship and may not be able to reinstate it.

Do I need a certain grade point average to get or keep the award?

You need to meet campus academic requirements for passing and earning credit toward your degree to maintain your Excelsior Scholarship.

What if I decide to move out of New York State after I graduate?

After graduation, you must live and be employed (if working) in New York State for the number of years you received the scholarship. If you do not meet the residency requirement, it becomes an interest-free loan which you will then be required to pay back.

Is this a scholarship or a loan?

This is a scholarship. However, the scholarship converts to a loan when a student does not fulfill the residency requirement. The scholarship does not revert to a loan if the student becomes ineligible and loses the scholarship while continuing his or her undergraduate work prior to graduation. If the scholarship reverts to a loan, that loan will not incur interest.

If I complete my associate degree, can I receive this award to get my bachelor’s degree?

Yes, provided the college that you attend accepts at least 60 credits toward your four-year degree, and you meet all other requirements for the Excelsior Scholarship. You must also be continuously enrolled from the associate degree program to the bachelor’s degree program, unless you have an approved interruption in enrollment.

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