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New York Free College Goes to 22,000 and Counting

October 3, 2017
 
 

About 22,000 students are attending a State University of New York or City University of New York campus without paying tuition because they are receiving the new Excelsior Scholarship, the state announced this weekend.

More than 6,000 applications are still being processed, so the number of students receiving scholarships is expected to rise. But the state released early figures on the new scholarship at the start of October, several months after lawmakers captured attention and sparked swift applications this spring by passing the free public college program at the urging of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The new program pushed the portion of full-time undergraduate in-state SUNY and CUNY students who do not pay tuition to 53 percent, up from 48 percent last year. Many of the roughly 400,000 full-time in-state students at New York’s public colleges already did not pay tuition because of a state Tuition Assistance Program, Pell Grants and other scholarships. The Excelsior Scholarship functions as a “last dollar” scholarship, meaning it covers remaining tuition after other forms of aid have been taken into account.

About 45,000 students have been deemed eligible for Excelsior Scholarships so far. But more than 23,000 have their tuition covered through other forms of financial aid like TAP and Pell.

Income limits on the Excelsior Scholarship will rise in the future, from $100,000 this academic year to $110,000 in 2018-19 and $125,000 in 2019-20. The scholarship requires students to be enrolled full-time and complete 30 credits per year. It does not cover non-tuition expenses like housing or books. It also requires students to live in the state after graduating for the same number of years they received free tuition.

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