by Stefanie Sciolaro
OSWEGO, NY- – On April 8th, Governor Cuomo announced that all public 2 and 4 year universities in the state of New York will offer a tuition free scholarship. The Excelsior Scholarship will allow middle class families, who qualify, to be exempt from paying for college tuition.
In order to qualify, a family’s adjusted gross income must be under $100,000 in 2017. By 2018 that number will go up to $110,000, and by 2019 the amount will increase to $125,000. These incomes will include all student, parent, or spouse incomes within the family.
Students must be enrolled full-time, already have 30 college credits, and continue to complete 30 credits per year, which includes summer sessions, while in college. Transfer students will be eligible if they, or once, they’ve met the 30 credit requirement. If the student loses the scholarship, for now, they will be unable to regain it, though there is an appeal process being put in place.
Once students who are receiving the scholarship graduate, they will be required to stay New York residents for the same amount of time they had received the scholarship in college. Christopher Britts, an education major at SUNY Oswego, is apprehensive of where the state’s getting the money to fund this and what the resident restriction entitles.
“Are my taxes or other college expenses going to go up?… Will they decrease the PELL or TAP grants we get? Because if so and I don’t qualify where does that leave me?… What if I get a job in Cali or Jersey, I have to say no? If so, I’d rather have the loans, then at least I’m free.” says Christopher.
Graduate students are not eligible for the scholarship, nor are students who have already completed an undergraduate degree and are pursuing a second.
Families will still be responsible for other expenses such as room and board, meal plans, and books, but the hope is for the Excelsior Scholarship to help relieve some of the burdens that families face in trying to pay for student’s college education. Financial aid will not be effected if a student receives the scholarship.
Christopher is also a team leader for Mentor Scholar, an after school program helping children with homework, and says this scholarship is good for younger children as well.
“Yes the scholarship needs adjustments and clarification but it really does give them a future to look forward to. Many of these kids come from low income families who before now, college was probably never an option…well now it is. As a future educator and current college student thats a beautiful thing to see.” Chris said.
This scholarship will go into effect and be available to students for the Fall 2017 semester. For more on the Excelsior Scholarship visit http://www.ny.gov, for SUNY (State University of New York) information visit https://www.suny.edu, and for CUNY (City University of New York) information visit http://www2.cuny.edu.