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Learning more about the Excelsior Scholarship

by Breonnah Colon - COPY DESK CHIEF
Tue, Apr 25th 2017 09:00 pm
Photo courtesy of suny.edu
GREAT POTENTIAL - The Excelsior Scholarship, introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo (above) can help thousands of students graduate on time, but won't cover semesters past students' expected graduation date.
Photo courtesy of suny.edu GREAT POTENTIAL - The Excelsior Scholarship, introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo (above) can help thousands of students graduate on time, but won't cover semesters past students' expected graduation date.

News of Governor Cuomo's groundbreaking Excelsior Scholarship has been in the headlines quite frequently these past few weeks. The scholarship has been viewed positively by many students due to its full coverage of tuition of publicly funded schools. Being the first of its kind in the United States, the Excelsior Scholarship offers financial support for thousands of students in the country struggling to pay for their college education. 

The Excelsior Scholarship is set to be phased out over the course of three years with the funding available to students increasing from $100,000 beginning  in the Fall of 2017 to $125,000 by the Fall 2019. Many students understand the scholarship is only available to individuals participating in undergraduate programs and are aware of this phasing out process as well as the mandated GPA maintenance and the requirement for students who benefit from the scholarship to stay within the state of New York for as long as they received financial aid from the scholarship. 

It is important for students to understand the excelsior scholarship has been pushed 

in the effort, by New York State legislation, to help students obtain their college degree within the set time of their graduation date. As explained by ny.gov, "the Excelsior Scholarship Program will encourage more students to graduate on time and will grow the number of graduates from our public universities."

While there is flexibility for students who may need to reapply for the program should unforeseen circumstances take place, the ultimate goal of the program is to fund higher education for no longer than necessary, meaning students who take longer than two or four years to complete their respective degree may have to pay out of pocket for extended semesters.

The New York Times article titled, "New York's Free-Tuition Program Will Help Traditional, but Not Typical, Students" by David W. Chen explains that the scholarship will make a significant impact on the cost of attendance for students, cutting financial costs by as much as $26,000 within the first year being put into place for families with an annual income less than $100,000. However, Chen goes on to explain that the scholarship would not necessarily have a positive impact on students who don't have the traditional college experience, meaning a college career which begins right after a student completes high school.

"[The excelsior program] will primarily benefit traditional students, those who go to college straight from high school and earn their degrees on time," Chen states. "The state's college students, increasingly, are not like that. Many of them attend part time and take extra years to earn their degrees, so Excelsior will not help them."

While the Excelsior Scholarship could have a positive and beneficial impact on the college experience for students who may be facing financial issues, the scholarship alone won't be enough to alter the course of a student's college career. However, that doesn't mean students shouldn't strive to obtain and use the funding offered by the program, it could still be very useful. 

Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management Randall Langston believes students at The College at Brockport could see positive results through the use and application of the scholarship.

"Our understanding is that the scholarship requires students to take 30 credit hours a year to remain in compliance," Langston wrote in an email. "This would mean that students could graduate in four years."

While Langston believes the scholarship could help students graduate on time, he believes the college will have to wait for the implementation of the program to actually be able to tell how the graduation rate for students impacted by the scholarship will be affected. 

The Excelsior Scholarship has the potential to have a great impact on college students, but like many other scholarships it is important for students to understand the requirements and limitations of the program.



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