It’s still unclear just how many students applied for and will be awarded the state’s new Excelsior Scholarship announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year.
Onondaga Community College Financial Aid Director Becky Rose says they won’t know until December exactly how many students will get the scholarship that allows them to go to SUNY and CUNY schools tuition-free.
The scholarship is available to full-time students with family incomes up to $100,000 this year. The income threshold will go up to $125,000 per year over the next few years.
At this point Rose says between 900-1,000 OCC students applied for the scholarship by the July deadline. Nearly half of those applications were dismissed because they didn’t meet its requirements, so there are still 500 students potentially in the mix. The school had a full time enrollment last year of just over 5,700 students.
She says the fact that there were only six weeks between when the program was announced and applications had to be in, could have kept numbers down.
“It was a a very short window of time. It was the beginning of June to mid-July where the student could actually apply and get the documents into New York State,” said Rose. “So as this program advances it has great potential for more and more applications coming through.”
Rose believes more students will apply for the scholarship as they learn more about it, and have more time to complete the application.
“I’m hoping to see over the next year, and more and more students know about this, that the application pool will increase,” she said. “Students will be more versed on what the scholarship is, and what the criteria are, and get their applications in.
Rose says families she talked to were interested in the program, but notes that at a college like OCC, many students already have tuition covered by TAP and PELL grants, and the Excelsior scholarship is a ‘last-dollar’ scholarship. The current tuition at the two-year school is $4,570 per year.