The benefits of a college degree are well known. Those who only carry a high school diploma are falling further behind than ever before. Throughout the nation different law makers are trying to find solutions for the rising cost of a college degree in order to give more students the opportunity to pursue a college degree and better their lives. New York is leading this charge after introducing the Excelsior Scholarship this past spring, and it is continuing forward.
If you missed your chance to apply for the scholarship this past spring, fear not. The Excelsior Scholarship application for the spring 2018 semester is now open as of Monday, October 30 at 9:00am, and will run through December 4. The spring 2018 application is open to students first entering college in the spring 2018 term, students who caught up on credits during the fall 2017 term to meet the credit requirement, and current college students who missed the deadline for the fall 2017 application. Simply visit hesc.ny.gov/excelsior to submit your application.
The Excelsior Scholarship will cover up to $5,500 in tuition after all other awards are factored in, like Pell Grants, TAP, and others. As it was during the first cycle, students must be enrolled in at least 12 credits per term and complete at least 30 credits each year (continuously) that are applicable toward their degree program. In addition to the in school performance, awardees must reside in New York State after graduation for however long they receive the award, and, if employed during such time, be employed in New York. The full list of requirements are found on hesc.ny.gov/excelsior.
The numbers behind the program show success from the onset. After the first round of applications this spring, nearly 22,000 students are now attending college at a SUNY or CUNY school tuition-free. That number brings the total portion of tuition-free students to nearly 53% of the total in New York State.
Access to college is expanding and New York has taken the lead in trying to help students remove one of the key hurdles they face in attending college. Both higher education institutions and politicians in New York are working together to make the Excelsior Scholarship the best it can be moving forward.
Sarah Petrak is a student assistant with the Office of Communications and New Media for SUNY System Administration. She is a studying Public Policy at the University at Albany.