Students still seeking answers on Excelsior Scholarship

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College students are getting ready to return to campus, and financial aid experts are getting a lot of questions, and even complaints, about what New York’s Excelsior Scholarship covers in terms of cost.

At Monroe Community College in Brighton, admissions counselors are still working to enroll students for the upcoming semester. Many of which, have showed interest in obtaining free tuition through the Excelsior Scholarship.

Associate VP of Enrollment Christine Casalinuovo-Adams said, “we have seen an uptick in phone calls from parents and students that aren’t just going to plan on attending this fall, but plan on attending future semesters.”

Casalinuovo-Adams encourages students looking to benefit from Excelsior must first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA.

“Once they fill out the FAFSA and we look at what the Excelsior Scholarship the following year, we would encourage students step by step on what they need to do to complete that process,” said Casalinuovo-Adams.

Rochester Education Foundation’s Executive Director, Patricia Braus, said many students are still in the dark about what the scholarship does and does not cover.

“While Excelsior is a fabulous benefit, it doesn’t pay for everything,” said Braus. “You’re still responsible for the fees, you’re responsible for your living expenses. If you’re a commuter, you’re responsible for your car upkeep.”

Braus added that some students may be inclined to take other aid packages offered from private schools because of this. Though the scholarship itself is still a blessing for those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to pay in full. 

Right now, the scholarship provides free tuition for families making less than $100,000 a year for two and four-year SUNY and CUNY colleges.

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