Governor Cuomo Announces a 10 Percent Increase in Applications at SUNY Four-Year Schools and CUNY Institutions as a Result of the Excelsior Scholarship Program

February 6, 2018

From the office of Governor Cuomo

Applicants for SUNY 4-Year Schools Increased by 9 Percent; CUNY Applications Increased by 11 Percent

Both Systems Saw Significant Increase in Freshman Taking 15 Credits a Semester - 11 Percent for SUNY; 39 Percent for CUNY

Spotlight on Excelsior Scholar Here

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that applications at State University of New York four-year schools and City University of New York institutions across the state increased by 10 percent as a result of the Excelsior Scholarship, the first-in-the-nation program providing cost-free tuition at New York's public colleges and universities. SUNY institutions saw a nine percent increase in year over year freshman applicants received through SUNY's Application Services Center and CUNY institutions saw an 11 percent increase in applicants.

"The Excelsior Scholarship opens the door to higher education and a brighter economic future, and this increase in applications is proof positive that students are seizing this unprecedented opportunity," Governor Cuomo said. "As we continue to help more New Yorkers achieve a high quality college education, we are helping to build the highly skilled workforce of the future, as well as the next generation of Empire State leaders."

SUNY Applications

By December 22, 2017, SUNY received an increase of 9 percent in unique applicants for Fall 2018 through the SUNY Application Services Center, the primary processing center for the university system's state-operated campuses. SUNY's 30 community colleges also reported an increase of two percent. In Fall 2017, 66,770 full-time freshman enrolled at SUNY, among which 61.8 percent, or 41,282 students, took 15 credits or more. This is an increase of nearly 11 percent from the 37,270 full-time freshman who took 15 credits or more in Fall 2016.

CUNY Applications

Freshman applications at CUNY for Fall 2018 have risen to a record 50,546 in one year - a more than 11 percent increase as of Dec. 24, 2017. This increase follows a previous record nine percent increase in applications in December 2016 from 2015, resulting in the largest-ever CUNY freshman class of 38,372 enrolling in Fall 2017. Additionally, this fall, CUNY saw a 39 percent increase in the number of full-time freshmen taking 15 credits or more in their first semester.

SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson said, "Since the introduction of the Excelsior Scholarship, more New Yorkers from middle income households have the opportunity for free tuition, making a high quality college education attainable. Now, as we enter the second year of this program, we are encouraged to see a significant increase in the number of students applying to SUNY and taking that first step toward making their college dream a reality."

CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken said, "Students are seeing the tremendous opportunity and value that CUNY offers. We believe that Gov. Cuomo's Excelsior Scholarship played a significant role in the increases in applications, enrollment and credit-taking by enabling eligible students to attend tuition-free."

About The Excelsior Scholarship

In the 2018-19 academic year, New Yorkers with household incomes up to $110,000 are now eligible to apply for the Excelsior Scholarship, reaching $125,000 in 2019-20.  Students must be enrolled in college full-time and complete 30 credits per year, with flexibility to complete courses during summer and winter semesters. The program is designed to work for students, allowing New Yorkers facing hardship to pause and restart the program, and all recipients can take fewer credits one semester than another in completing 30 credits per year. With the addition of the 23,000 students attending college tuition free under Excelsior; New York has over 53 percent, or 210,000, of our full-time New York students going to college tuition-free.

Students are required to maintain a grade point average necessary for the successful completion of their coursework, and, as the program makes a major investment in the state's greatest asset - our young people - scholars will be required to live and work in-state after graduation for a duration equal to the number of years an Excelsior Scholarship was received.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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Holly Liapis
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