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New York sees rise in number of SUNY, CUNY scholarships awarded

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FILE: Students at the State University of New York in Oswego on January 3, 2017. There was a 20 percent increase in Excelsior Scholarships from the 2018-2019 academic year to the 2019-2020 academic year. (WSTM)

Albany, N.Y. (WHAM) - New York state officials are reporting an increase in the number of no-cost tuition scholarships for SUNY and CUNY schools.

There was a 20 percent increase in Excelsior Scholarships from the 2018-2019 academic year to the 2019-2020 academic year. Approximately 24,000 students were awarded the scholarship - an increase from 20,000 scholarships in the program's first year.

When the program was first announced in 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested that 940,000 middle-class families would be eligible to qualify for the program. By that standard, just 2.5 percent of all eligible households were awarded the scholarship for the 2019-2020 year.

Officials with the governor's office said more than 210,000 students will go to SUNY or CUNY tuition-free, which adds in students receiving the Excelsior Scholarship, as well as TAP, Pell and other financial aid.

This is the second year for the Excelsior Scholarship program. It is in the third of three stages for being phased in. It started in 2017 with households making $100,000 annually being eligible for the award. This was increased to $110,000 in 2018, and $125,000 this year. Scholars must be enrolled in college full-time and average 30 credits per year in order to receive the funding.

Students are required to maintain a grade point average necessary for the successful completion of their coursework. They will also need to live and work in-state for the same number of years after graduation as they received the scholarship while in school.

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