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$2M Scheduled for Excelsior Scholarship this Fall

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The number of Excelsior Scholarship recipients at the University at Albany has increased by over 200 since late August, bringing the current total to 1,043 students for the fall semester.

After the influx of awards in August, the number of awards that the financial aid office has been receiving is relatively flat.

“I don’t think we’re going to get many more at this time,” financial aid director Stephen Kudzin said.

But with the spring semester application open until Dec. 4, that number may increase for next semester.

Kudzin anticipates more recipients in the spring, as students who didn’t apply or qualify for this semester may apply and qualify for next semester.

For the fall semester, $2.14 million from the state is scheduled to go toward recipients.

Kudzin anticipates upward of $5 million for fall and spring combined, assuming that current students continue and others apply.

The Student Financial Center sent out emails over the summer with dates indicating the deadline for the fall application.

A couple weeks ago, the SFC sent out another email indicating that the spring application is open. Students who receive the award this fall will not need to apply again for spring.

At the beginning of the semester, there were 826 students scheduled to receive the scholarship.

This followed from the summer application and processing period, in which 4,200 transcripts went through credit evaluation, Kudzin said.

The transcripts were passed to the university from the Higher Education Services Corporation, the agency that administers the program.

However, the 4,200 could be different from the number of UAlbany students that applied to the program. That number lies with HESC because students apply through that agency.

Though the current number of recipients HESC funneled to the university is relatively stable, Kudzin indicated that HESC is still finalizing awards because students can still meet Excelsior requirements through December.

“HESC has certainly been flexible with their deadlines,” Kudzin said.

HESC did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

About 45,000 students statewide were eligible for the scholarship this fall, HESC reported in October.

About half of these students are expected to receive the scholarship to cover tuition costs that other aid hasn’t already covered. The other half is not receiving the scholarship because other aid has covered tuition costs.

UAlbany numbers are similar: 2,141 students were Excelsior eligible for the fall semester, Kudzin said. About half are receiving the scholarship, and the other half aren’t receiving the scholarship because other aid covers tuition costs.

From those receiving the scholarship, half are receiving the full $5,500 award for the academic year.

Kudzin said that this may reduce the number of students taking out loans.

“[Excelsior] takes our portfolio of students who are potentially eligible for grants and scholarships and opens it up to a whole other level,” he said.

For students receiving the scholarship, the expected money shows as anticipated aid on their bill. This is because Excelsior money won’t come in until the end of the semester after the certification process.

In this process, students’ awards will either be certified or decertified, depending on whether they meet the academic requirements throughout the semester, which is at least 12 credits per semester to make 30 credits for the year.

Compared to UAlbany, University at Buffalo has just under 1,600 students scheduled to receive Excelsior money and Binghamton University has 998.

Based on enrollment numbers, UAlbany, UB, and BU have between 7 and 8 percent of undergraduate students receiving the scholarship.

At UAlbany, the number of recipients decreases with class year, as the freshman class has the most recipients, 377, and the senior class has the least, 184.

There are 252 sophomore recipients and 230 junior recipients.

Despite half of students receiving the full award, under 20 students are receiving Excelsior awards of $100 or less.

One student is receiving $11 of Excelsior money for the academic year, Kudzin indicated. This student will be bound by the 30-credits per year requirement and must live in state after graduation for the same number of years as receiving the award.

“That’s their choice,” Kudzin said. “The service commitment is up to them.”

 

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Elise Coombs, a Syracuse native, is the editor-in-chief of the Albany Student Press. She is the co-Vice President of the UAlbany Mock Trial team, a member of Presidential Honors Society, and a peer mentor for the pre-law section of Writing and Critical Inquiry. After her time at UAlbany, she plans to go to law school and become a First Amendment lawyer.

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