Awards for Excelsior Scholarship lower than projected

Education

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Excelsior Scholarship Program was created to address what Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the college affordability crisis. 

However, a new report from the Empire Center for Public Policy says, fewer students are receiving the money than predicted.

Rachel Lynch is a first-year student at Monroe County Community College.
She says without the Excelsior Scholarship money, she would be struggling to pay for college.

“If I didn’t get the scholarship than I just would have been paying a lot more out of pocket or my parents and that just would have been more of an inconvenience,” said Rachel Lynch, a first-year student MCC.

The Excelsior Program was created to help families making under $125,000 a year with college tuition.

Based on data from the Governor’s office, 55% of resident students in the state go to college tuition-free using programs that include Excelsior, TAP and Pell, among others.

A new report on the State Excelsior Scholarship program, however, shows, not as many students are receiving the funds as predicted.

When it was created, Gov. Cuomo predicted 940,000 families in the state could potentially qualify for the program, this based on census data of families that make less than $125,000 a year.

But reports from last school year show 24,000 families received scholarships. The numbers for this year predict around 30,000 families will be awarded money.

The Empire Center for Pubic Policy cites a number of factors for the lack of scholarships including tight income requirements, administrative challenges and only being available to public schools.

Officials at MCC say a lack of knowledge about the program might be a cause for the low numbers.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize that the Excelsior Scholarship, as long as your OK with the very simple procedures that they entail, they would get so much more money,” said Lynch.

“It is a simple application to fill out, but for some students, it can be overwhelming they may not have access to technology at home or they may have questions that they just don’t know the answer too. Please contact your local financial aid office and get the support you need to be able to fill out those forms,” said Christine Casalinuovo-Adams, MCC Associate VP of Enrollment Management at MCC.

At MCC, over 400 students have applied for the funds for this year.

A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo said in a statement;

“The criticisms in this report are nothing more than an illusion propped up by a right-wing think tank doing the bidding of shady benefactors bent on undermining progressive policy. For students across New York, the Excelsior Scholarship is working – it’s already helped tens of thousands of young people attend college tuition-free and we’ve already seen a marked improvement in the number of students on track to graduate both on-time and debt-free.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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