BUFFALO, N.Y.(WKBW) - New York State started accepting applications for its free college tuition program. Through the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation website students could apply for the Excelsior Scholarship.
The program awards up to $5,500 to students who qualify, attending a two year or four year state college. One of the major requirements is you must come from a household making under $100,000 annual. Next year students whose families making up to $125,000 will be eligible.
There are some things people might not know about this free state college tuition program. Students receiving the scholarship are required to go to college full time. They must earn 30 credits within 12 months. During the fall and spring they must take a minimum of 12 hours of course. Students are also required to live in New York after graduation, for the same number of years they benefited from the scholarship. If they leave the state, the scholarship becomes a no interest loan.
In addition to these basic requirements, HESC approved some additional provisions to provide flexibility for students who receive the scholarship, including:
Allowing for the interruption of study and waiver of post-award obligations based on military service requirements
Allowing students to apply college credits earned in high school toward the 30-credits per year completion requirements
Prorating repayment of an award if residency/work requirements are not met, and making provisions for waiver/postponement of repayment in cases of extreme hardship
Allowing current college students who are six or less credits short of meeting the program’s credit requirements the opportunity to become eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship in 2018-2019, enabling them to "catch up" and qualify
Authorizing disabled students to attend part-time and receive a pro-rated award
A full list of the regulations can be found here, and a list of FAQ's can be found here.
HESC also approved the Enhanced Tuition Awards program, creating a scholarship program for New York State students who attend in-state private colleges and universities.
The income, enrollment, and post-graduation residency requirements for the Enhanced Tuition Awards program are the same as for the Excelsior Scholarship, but the former includes the additional requirement that the private college or university match the financial award.
Governor Andrew Cuomo estimates nearly 80 percent of New York families would qualify for these tuition assistance programs.
So far 3,200 people have applied for the scholarship. The deadline to apply is July.