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Excelsior Scholarship:

Tuition for New York Residents

Mon, Apr 17th 2017 09:05 pm

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced the Excelsior Scholarship which will provide full tuition for students that live in New York State.  Like any other scholarship the Excelsior Scholarship will still have guidelines and requirements to be met before it is granted.
Elizabeth Pritchard/EDITORIAL CARTOONIST Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced the Excelsior Scholarship which will provide full tuition for students that live in New York State. Like any other scholarship the Excelsior Scholarship will still have guidelines and requirements to be met before it is granted.

There has been a little something else in the air besides the spring this season and that's the scent of victory for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his team who have managed to not only introduce, but also pass into effect the Excelsior Scholarship. For those who aren't aware, the scholarship is tremendous news New York residents because it will be the first statewide program to completely cover tuition costs for in state students not only attending two-year universities, but also four-year universities. That means New York is helping students acquire either an associate's or bachelor's degree, whichever one a student wishes to achieve. The idea is to help as many students interested in attending and completing college as possible so that they will not only be able to obtain their degree, but also do so on time without having to delay their intended graduation date due to financial issues.

There are a few requirements, of course, as there are with any scholarship open to students. The first and perhaps most widely shared requirement is for families to have an annual income that totals out to less than $100,000. This is done in an attempt to help students of families who struggle financially or who are beneath the poverty line so they still have access to a college degree. Another goal for the establishment of the income cap for this scholarship is to help alleviate the issues that come with students taking out loans in order to acquire a higher education. While loans may serve for a quick financial fix in order to enter school or cover a semester at the time, later costs and added interest could serve as potential issues for students and their families in the future. A scholarship, however, does not need to be paid back afterwards while covering the same immediate financial issues as a loan would. The Excelsior Scholarship income cap will also increase over the next three years as the program gets phased in. While the cap for the upcoming Fall 2017 semester will be $100,000, the number will raise to $110,000 in the Fall 2018 and finally reaching its maximum income cap at $125,000 by the Fall 2019.

Another equally important aspect of applying to and receiving the excelsior scholarship is students must be residents of New York state who are enrolled full time, with a total of 30 credits per academic year, in a state-funded college that is part of the City University of New York or State University of New York systems. This ensures that money going into the funding of the Excelsior Scholarship will be aiding students who live within the New York region. While students are required to be enrolled full time, the scholarship will allow for students to still be granted aid if they need to take less credits one semester than another or need to restart the program altogether. There is also a grade-point average that must be kept in order for students to continue to maintain their position with the scholarship, however, that is also not an atypical rule regarding scholarships.

The Excelsior Scholarship sounds like a pretty sweet deal and we at The Stylus think it is, but for those who think the program seems too good to be true, there is a slight catch. First, it is important to remember the scholarship is focused on targeting students who are entering college for either their associate's or bachelor's degrees. This means only undergraduate students will be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship; anyone who has already completed their degree and is attending graduate school cannot apply. Second and possibly more important, is the requirement of New York State residents who receive the benefits of full tuition coverage offered through the funding of the Excelsior Scholarship will be mandated to work and live within New York State post graduation for the same amount of years they received funding by the Excelsior Scholarship.

So what does this mean? It means if you attended school for four years and received tuition coverage as a result of the excelsior scholarship, then you are both expected and required by New York State to continue to live and work within the state for four years after graduation. If not, then you have to pay the tuition. The same will go for students who were covered for one, two or three years of their college career — any number of years covered by the state is the same number of years a student is expected to work in the state after graduation. This is done with the expectation that the Excelsior Scholarship is an investment for NYS residents who wouldn't be able to afford a college degree without the program. This cycle will allow for students to have easier access to a higher education as well as benefit the state overall by having more college educated citizens.

So, free tuition coverage with not too many requirements other than a maintained GPA of a 2.0, full-time enrollment and equal amount of time living and working within the state as the amount of time the state covered tuition, who could find a problem with that, right?

Well, it turns out there are some people who fear the Excelsior Scholarship could be detrimental to the overall value of a college education and degrees in general. The individuals fear that allowing too many people the possibility to attend and complete college will result in too many people acquiring college degrees, which would somehow lead to statewide anarchy as too many educated and skilled workers compete within the job market. 

We at The Stylus argue otherwise. A state with increased college educated residents can result in a state with better opportunities and financial stability. Working towards an environment where people of different classes have an equal opportunity to accomplish their life goals should never be something to feel threatened by and is, in fact, what our entire country is supposed to be based on. So let's celebrate this victory! 

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