The Excelsior program allows for New York residents to qualify for tuition-free enrollment at all CUNY and SUNY two- and four-year colleges if students are willing to commit to working within the state for a fixed period of time post-graduation.

Program Sponsorship
The program is sponsored by the State of New York and is managed by New York’s Higher Education Services Corporation.

Program Impact
While the program was just instituted in 2017, in its first year there were 75,000 students who applied, which was more than 3 times the anticipated amount. 940,000 families are estimated to be eligible by 2019

Observations / Insights
  • This program is unique in terms of pairing a large magnitude state-sponsored scholarship program with strict residency requirements and claw-back mechanisms.
  • The state legislature appropriated $87 M for the first year of the program, which may be insufficient to cover all qualified applicants leading to a shortfall.
  • Critics of the program have pointed to the administrative difficulties of managing residency verification processes and administrating loans for noncompliant graduates.

Program Website