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New York scholarships, student loans and grants

Students attending a SUNY college could get up to 100% of their tuition covered.

About 60% of students in New York graduate with an average debt load of $31,000. However, there are ways to reduce that amount through one of the many scholarships and grants available to residents of the Empire State.

Top 3 New York college scholarships

New York State offers a long list of scholarships to residents through the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC).

1. Excelsior Scholarship

The Excelsior Scholarship covers up to 100% of the cost of tuition for New York residents to attend a SUNY or CUNY college — including community colleges. To qualify, you’ll need to sign a contract agreeing to live in New York during the length of your scholarship. And if you decide to work while in school, your job will also need to be in New York State.

2. New York State Scholarship for Academic Excellence

The New York State Scholarship for Academic Excellence is available to full-time students attending an eligible postsecondary institution in New York. Awards are determined by your grades on high school Regents exams.

3. New York State STEM Incentive Program

The STEM Incentive Program is designed to help students cover the cost of pursing a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. You need to be in the top 10% of your high school graduating class to qualify. And once you graduate, you’re required to live in New York and work in a STEM field in the state for at least five years.

Other New York scholarships

There are other scholarships available to New York residents attending specific New York State schools or pursuing degrees in particular fields. These include:

  • Enhanced Tuition Award. Students attending a private college may qualify for up to $6,000 per year to help pay for their degree.
  • New York State Part-time Scholarship (PTS) Award. Students enrolled at a SUNY or CUNY community college may qualify for up to $1,500 per semester for up to two years.
  • New York State Child Welfare Worker Incentive Scholarship Program. Work at a New York State-licensed child welfare agency? You may qualify for an award to help you pay for an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree to further your work in the child welfare field.
  • New York State Achievement and Investment in Merit Scholarship (NY-AIMS). High school honor students may be eligible for a merit award of $500 for four years of undergraduate study — depending on your test scores, GPA and other criteria.
  • New York State Math and Science Teaching Incentive Scholarship. Undergraduate and graduate students pursuing careers as math or science teachers could be eligible for an award that covers the full cost of tuition at SUNY — though you can put these funds toward any public or private New York State school.
  • New York State Masters-in-Education Teacher Incentive Scholarship. Interested in getting your master’s degree in education? You may qualify to have 100% of your tuition costs covered at a SUNY or CUNY college or university.
  • Senator Patricia K. McGee Nursing Faculty Scholarship. New York State-registered professional nurses interested in becoming nursing faculty or adjunct clinical faculty may qualify for up to $20,000 per year to cover the cost of a graduate degree.

Check the HESC website for even more scholarship opportunities, including several memorial scholarships available to the children and spouses of civil servants and service members killed in the line of duty.

Top 3 New York grants for school

New York State doesn’t offer many grants, but what it does have can help make tuition more affordable for low-income students.

1. New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)

The Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) is designed to make education for New York students more affordable. Unlike many New York State-funded scholarships, it doesn’t have any residency or work requirements to meet during school or after graduation.

2. Part-time TAP

The Part-Time TAP award gives students who can only attend school part time a chance to have part of their college costs covered through the Tuition Assistance Program. Depending on the credits you take, you’ll receive a percentage of the full-time TAP award.

3. Aid for Part-Time Study (APTS)

The Aid for Part-Time Study (APTS) grant is meant for students who have already received a TAP grant but still need help with tuition costs. It has different income requirements than the TAP grant, though, so check the HESC website to make sure you qualify before applying.

Do I qualify for New York scholarships and grants if I go to school out of state?

Probably not. All of the scholarships and grants listed above require you to not only be a New York resident, but also attend school in the state. And many ask you to sign a contract agreeing to live and work in New York for a few years after graduation as well.

Read our article on applying to college out of state if you’re planning on attending school outside of New York.

Other ways to pay for school in New York

If you aren’t able to qualify for many of the grants or scholarships listed above, consider these alternate options:

Federal and college scholarships and grants

There are federal grants available to those with significant financial need, and quite a few national scholarship opportunities for academically competitive students. Plus, the specific school you’re attending likely offers its own financial aid awards as well. For instance, NYU has several need- and merit-based scholarships available to undergraduates and graduate students alike.

Federal and private student loans

When you’ve exhausted your other funding opportunities, it’s time to consider student loans. We recommend first filling out the FAFSA to see what federal loans you qualify for — they’re usually the least expensive. If there’s still a gap, consider private student loans. Many have flexible repayment terms and decent rates, though you’ll need to do your research.

Compare private student loan providers

Name Product APR Min. Credit Score Loan amount Loan Term
EDvestinU Private Student Loans
4.092% to 8.609% with autopay
$1,000 - $200,000
7 to 20 years
Straightforward student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
CommonBond Private Student Loans
3.74% to 10.74%
$5,000 - $500,000
5 to 15 years
Finance your college education through this lender with a strong social mission and terms that fit your budget.
Edvisors Private Student Loan Marketplace
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Quickly compare private lenders for your school and apply for the right student loan.
Credible Labs Inc. (Student Loan Platform)
Starting at 1.24% with autopay
Good to excellent credit
Starting at $1,000
5 to 20 years
Get prequalified rates from private lenders offering student loans with no origination or prepayment fees.

Compare up to 4 providers

Explore scholarships, student loans and grants in other states

Bottom line

New York can be an expensive place to live, but going to college there doesn’t have to break the bank. With a variety of state-funded scholarship and grant opportunities available to residents, you could get up to 100% of your tuition costs covered if you decide to go to a SUNY or CUNY school.

Need more financing? Read our guide to student loans to explore other ways to pay for college.

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