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Excelsior Scholarship Proposal: Faculty Q&A

posted Feb 17, 2017, 12:48 PM by Emily Tai   [ updated Mar 2, 2017, 12:03 AM by Jay Weiser ]
By Ned Benton

The Excelsior Scholarship Program (ES) is a proposed New York State financial aid program designed to cover tuition costs for students whose family income does not exceed $125,000. The program, if approved by the Legislature and enacted by the Governor, would be phased in over three years and would be coordinated with other forms of state and federal financial aid.

The following answers to questions heard from the faculty are based upon current information that may change as the legislative process continues. We hope it will help faculty members stay informed so that they can offer the best possible guidance to students.
  • Costs covered. ES would cover in-state tuition in CUNY and SUNY.
  • Income limits.  ES would be phased in over three years, beginning for New Yorkers making up to $100,000 annually in the fall of 2017, increasing to $110,000 in 2018, and reaching $125,000 in 2019.
  • Coordination with other financial aid.  ES covers the difference between the full tuition cost and what TAP, Pell, ASAP and other scholarships provide. It covers the remaining tuition dollars after all other scholarships are counted in. The program, as currently proposed, does not cover fees.
  • Academic eligibility requirements.  Students must complete 15 credits per semester. ES is intended to ensure 4-year graduation, and earning 120 credits for baccalaureate graduation in four years requires 30 credits per year.
  • How to apply.  The student must file a FAFSA which is the standard federal financial aid form, and also apply for TAP – the NY State Tuition Assistance Program. The student’s financial aid package will then include the federal and state financial aid that the student qualifies for, including ES, and the student’s tuition bill will be adjusted accordingly.
  • Student categories not eligible.  Graduate students, out-of-state students, international students, students who have not filed an up-to-date FAFSA financial aid form. Part-time students are also not eligible based on the full-time credit load requirements.
  • How 15-credit rule would apply to current students. This is currently being determined and we will update this document as the rules and regulations emerge.
  • Other eligibility criteria under consideration. 
    • Revising scholarship specifications to 30-credits per year (including January and summer courses) to provide more flexibility for students who might be eligible; 
    • Stop-out allowances for family and medical emergencies, and waivers for students with disabilities;
    • Applying past rates of credit accumulation. For example: would a student who took 27 credits in the first year of study be permanently disqualified?
    • Applying transfer or equated credits.
    • Applying community college excess credits for a student transferring to a senior college.
    • Applying remedial and compensatory course credits.
    • Undocumented students.  Governor Cuomo supports this and the State Senate majority does not.
  • Advising registering students to maintain their ES eligibility.  This is a campus responsibility. CUNY is attempting to update financial aid software to support accurate and timely advising, but this is very challenging.
  • Likely student questions for faculty members.  This FAQ is intended to provide the basic answers. However, if students ask specific questions about their tuition bills, each campus should have designated officials who can answer individual questions based on the information available. 
We will update these Frequently Asked Questions as more information emerges.

#excelsiorscholarship #advisement #cuny #financialaid

Ned Benton is a Professor of Public Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where he directs the MPA Program in Inspection and Oversight, and serves as the chair of John Jay’s Faculty Senate. 

The UFS Blog is a forum for CUNY Faculty, and welcomes the expression of all points of view. 

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