BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — COVID-19 is affecting New York State's revenue, and potentially college aid for the 2020 high school seniors who've had an unprecedented year.
Colin Gallo of Tonawanda is about to begin his freshman year at SUNY Buffalo State. The incoming honors program student and Forensics Science major has dreamed of college since he was ten years old. His mother Stephanie became worried for the future of Colin's financial aid when she saw the following message on the Excelsior Scholarship Program page of the New York State Higher Education website.
“The Excelsior program was almost like a boost like yes he can do this, this is awesome," she said. “And now, its just like a kick in the gut.”
According to a spokesperson, the application will be made available soon.
“The application period for the Excelsior Scholarship will open soon, providing the opportunity to apply for funds that provide the middle class with the last mile of support they need to attend college tuition free. That said, the State is contending with a devastating revenue loss, amounting to $61 billion over four years, and in the absence of multi-year federal funding for New York State, awards may have to be reduced. We hope students and their families will join is in calling on the federal government to act.”
The state scholarship allows New Yorkers from households making less than $125,000 to go to SUNY and CUNY schools for free, if they follow certain guidelines.The 2020-21 school year will be the Excelsior Scholarship's fourth year. According to NYS, 24,000 students took part in the program in its second year. A state spokesperson tells 7 Eyewitness News that's the most recent data available. The household income eligibility for that year was under $110,000.
According to the state's higher education website the processing of new applications pends on federal assistance. With the semester six weeks away, the Gallo family wants answers now.
“It might limit how long he goes to school for," Gallo said. "He may only be able to get a bachelors degree, wait a few years, pay that down, and go back and get a Masters."