SUNY Chancellor visits New Paltz to talk about new Excelsior Scholarship

SUNY New Paltz welcomed Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher to campus on Monday, May 8, to give an overview and respond to questions about the new Excelsior Scholarship program, a tuition-free degree program that is the first of its kind in the nation.

“I’m all in on the Excelsior Scholarship, because jobs are going to require at least an associate’s degree; I’m all in because getting a college degree will double your lifetime earnings, from that of just a high school degree; I’m all in because I believe the Excelsior Scholarship builds hope for a better life, and seeds opportunity for everyone,” Chancellor Zimpher said.

As announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this year, the Excelsior Scholarship provides free tuition to New York State public colleges and universities for families earning up to $125,000 per year.

“The Excelsior Scholarship program has a clear goal of increasing college affordability and completion, and we embrace and endorse that goal, because we see those as important components of student success,” said President Donald P. Christian. “We welcome the sharpened focus on SUNY and the high-quality opportunity students have at its campuses.”

The Excelsior Scholarship program is currently being implemented and is on track to begin serving students in fall 2017.

With the open application period fast approaching, New Paltz students, faculty, staff and community members came out to hear Chancellor Zimpher discuss key details, including:

  • Application: It is anticipated that students and families will be able to apply for the Excelsior Scholarship beginning June 7, 2017. Applications are to be submitted to the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC); more information at
  • Eligibility: Students can apply for the Scholarship if they are New York residents, with plans to attend a two- or four-year SUNY or CUNY institution as a full time (30 credits per year) student. Excelsior recipients must maintain good academic standing and stay on track to graduate on time (two years for associate’s degrees; four years for most bachelor’s degrees).
  • Value: Excelsior Scholarship recipients can receive up to $5,500 from the Scholarship, minus any amounts received from Tuition Assistant Program (TAP), Pell Grants or other scholarships. Any remaining tuition charge will be covered through a credit paid through SUNY or CUNY.
  • After graduation: The Excelsior Scholarship is available only to students who live and/or work in New York State after they graduate, for at least as many years as they received the Scholarship. Failure to meet these requirements will result in the conversion of the Scholarship to a loan.

After Chancellor Zimpher gave a program overview, she opened the floor for a robust question and answer session. New Paltz’s Financial Aid Director Maureen Lohan-Bremer and HESC Director of Colleges and Universities Relations Lisa Simpson were on hand to help respond to the more technical questions.

More information about the Excelsior Scholarship is available from the HESC.