Countdown at ‘0’ for free state college scholarships

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – As of Wednesday, high school seniors in New York can start applying for free tuition at colleges across the state through the Excelsior Scholarship program which covers tuition at SUNY and CUNY schools.

The scholarship only covers tuition–students are on their own paying for room, board, and books. It also requires students to sign a contract to receive the free tuition, pledging to get their schoolwork done in 4 years.

But there are income guidelines: to qualify for an Excelsior Scholarship, the household income for a student’s family is $100,000 a year or less, regardless of family size. The student’s contract calls for staying and working in New York state for the same number of years as their free tuition, 4 years maximum.

Buffalo State College President Katherine Conway-Turner said that 4 year goal is in line with the college’s 4-year program called “Roar in 4”.

“In general, most students can finish in 4 years, and you can started by thinking carefully about the courses you need to take, working with your faculty members to keep you on the right track, and then, of course, doing well in those courses as you move through.”

The program offers waivers for students who enter military service, either for paying back their tuition, or completing their studies in 4 years. There are also allowances made for students with disabilities.

Dr. Conway-Turner said BSC students tend to pursue their post graduation careers in state, as well as SUNY and CUNY attendees in general.

“I don’t think that is going to be the big hurdle that some people think because this is a great state and our students like to stay here, and that is a great thing.”

There is a limit to how much a student can receive through the Excelsior Scholarship, $5,500 a year, minus any other scholarships received.

Students also have to maintain 30 credits per year, but they can apply Advance Placement credits from high school toward that total. Here is a link to the State Education Department’s updates for the Excelsior Scholarship.

Here is the Empire State Development Corporation’s page of FAQ’s for the Excelsior Scholarship. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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