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Tuition-free college for middle-class New Yorkers

SUNY Oswego has a long-standing commitment to higher education access, college completion and cost predictability. And now, through New York State's Excelsior Scholarship program, a greater number of New York students and families will be eligible to earn free tuition at SUNY Oswego. The first-of-its-kind in the nation plan will 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.

Eligibility requirements

  • Family household adjusted gross income, as filed on 2015 federal tax returns, must not exceed $100,000 for fall 2017 recipients
  • New York State residency
  • Earn 30 credits per year and maintain progress towards graduation
  • Good academic standing
  • Graduate on time with a bachelor's degree in four years
  • Students must live in New York and not work out of the state after graduation for the same number of years they receive the award, or they will need to repay the award.
  • Students must complete their academic program in four years, unless they are in an approved five-year undergraduate program.

Sign up for Excelsior Scholarship notifications

If you would like to be notified when you may apply for the Excelsior Scholarship, sign up for alerts on New York State’s Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) page.

It is anticipated that the Excelsior Scholarship application will be available online on or after Wednesday, June 7.

Excelsior Scholarship FAQs

Will I be able to attend SUNY Oswego tuition free?

Yes. If you are a NYS resident whose family household adjusted gross income (as led on your 2015 federal tax returns) does not exceed $100,000 for the 2017- 18 academic year and you complete 30 credits per year, you will be able to attend SUNY Oswego tuition free.

When will I be able to apply for the award?

It is anticipated that the Excelsior Scholarship application will be available online on or after Wednesday, June 7.

Will I be able to get an award for the fall 2017 semester?

Yes. Eligible students will receive awards to attend a SUNY or CUNY college tuition free this fall.

Are current SUNY Oswego students eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship?

Yes. Students who are currently attending SUNY Oswego are eligible to receive the award, provided they are currently on track to complete their degree on time. Eligible students must complete the Excelsior Scholarship application, which will be available online on or after Wednesday, June 7.

Can I receive the Excelsior Scholarship if I’m a transfer student?

A student who transferred between colleges is eligible for an Excelsior Scholarship if they are on track to complete on time based on the number of credits accepted by their current college.

What does it mean to be a “NYS resident” for purposes of receiving this award?

To be considered a NYS resident for purposes of receiving this award, you must have resided in the State for 12 continuous months prior to the term for which the award is being sought.

How much can I receive from the Excelsior Scholarship?

The program covers tuition for eligible SUNY Oswego and other public college students after other grants and scholarships. Resident undergraduate tuition is currently $6,470. Information specific to the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and other grants and scholarships can be found at

How much can my family earn to be eligible?

For the 2017-18 academic year, your federal household adjusted gross income can total up to $100,000 to be eligible. For 2018-19, that amount increases to $110,000, and beginning in 2019-20 and beyond, your family’s adjusted gross income can total up to $125,000.

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

Award recipients need to earn a passing grade to maintain their Excelsior Scholarship awards, provided they earn a total of 30 credits over the course of a year.

Recipients should keep in mind that they may have other awards which also carry academic standards that differ from those required for the Excelsior Scholarship.

How long can I get the award?

You are eligible to get an award for up to two years for students pursuing an associate’s degree and up to four years for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Students in an undergraduate program of study normally requiring five years are eligible to receive the award for five years.

Once I receive the scholarship, is it possible to lose it?

You can lose the scholarship if you do not continue to meet all eligibility requirements. For example, you must enroll in at least 12 credits per term and complete 30 credits per year to continue to receive the scholarship.

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

Yes, provided the college that you are attending accepted all of the credits you earned in completing your associate’s degree, and meet all other requirements for the Excelsior Scholarship.

Are there any other requirements that I must meet after I complete my degree?

Yes. You must live in New York State for the number of years equal to awards you received. For example, if you received four Excelsior Scholarship awards while getting your bachelor’s degree, you must live in New York State for four years after college. In addition, if you are working during those years, you must work in New York State.

Failure to meet these requirements will result in the conversion of your award to a loan.

I already have an undergraduate degree. Can I get an Excelsior Scholarship to pursue a second degree?

Applicants who have an associate’s degree are eligible to pursue a bachelor’s degree. However, you may not receive an award to pursue a second associate’s or a second bachelor’s degree.

Information was posted May 17, 2017 and is subject to change.

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