Staying indoors for too long has made us all dream of seeking more in the outside world when we can finally be out there again. Maybe it’s a hobby or a skill you’re aiming to work on and develop. Or if you’re looking at public universities in New York state for college degrees, we definitely feel you! Although, learning a skill or picking up a hobby doesn’t come with a high cost, getting a degree does! So if you have decided to enroll yourself in college, we’re proud of you and we wish to help! Here’s all you need to know about the costs of public colleges in New York.

First thing’s first: Is public college free in New York?

In brief, it’s a little complicated.

Back in 2017, public colleges in New York became much more accessible with the rollout of the Excelsior Scholarship program. The program proposed to cover four years of tuition. That too, without being tethered to academic performance at public universities in New York state.

As CNBC reported,

The scholarship applies to all schools and public colleges in New York and State University of New York. The government stated that more than 940,000 middle-class families and individuals making up to $125,000 per year will qualify when the program completes its three-year phase-in in 2020. However, you should keep in mind that the program does not cover the cost of books or room and board, and other living expenses.

Some of the requirements that make you eligible for the Excelsior scholarship are:

  • You need to be New York state residents.
  • As a student, you should attend a SUNY or CUNY two- or four-year program at public universities in New York state.
  • You need to take 30 credits per calendar year (including January and summer sessions).
  • You should plan to live and work in New York following graduation. And for at least as long as the time you participate in the scholarship program.

For a more detailed view of requirements, you can visit NYC’s government website.

As CNN reported,

Those eligible will pay nothing for tuition at public colleges in New York, which costs $6,470 annually at four-year schools and about $4,350 a year at community colleges. But they will still be on the hook for the cost of fees and room and board if they live on campus. Those other expenses can add up to $14,000 a year.

Okay, but how is it complicated?

Well, like everything else, the pandemic has complicated all the areas of our collective lives!

The Excelsior program was a program that filled students with hopes for a cheaper public college education in New York. But sadly, according to the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation, which runs the state’s Excelsior Scholarship, the pandemic has caused a dramatic reduction in state revenues and, as a result, the processing of new applications has been delayed since April 2020.

So what are other options for financial aid at public colleges in New York?


As per CNBC, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, serves as the gateway to all federal money, including loans, work-study, and grants, which are the most desirable kind of assistance. For the 2021-2022 school year, the FAFSA filing season opens Oct. 1 — and, for the most part, the sooner students file, the better.

In addition, keep in mind that financial aid for public universities in New York state is calculated based on a family’s income from two years earlier.

Student loans

We’ve all seen the memes and talk in the media about student loans and the misery of it. But if your desire for education at public colleges in New York is insurmountable. And if you plan your finances and future prospects well, you can consider this as a good option. The most important first step being, to educate yourself all you can about the options available and how you can get the best value out of them.

According to the NYC school government website, here are some things you should keep in mind.

  • Before you sign for any loan, make sure you ask questions. Find out when you or your family must start paying the money back and how much interest you will have to pay. Ask your college and career counselor at your school or a financial aid officer for help if you do not understand the loan documents.
  • You can also visit an NYC Financial Empowerment Center for free 1:1 financial counseling.
  • A Direct Subsidized Perkins Loan is a Federal student loan that has a lower interest rate. Students do not have to start paying this loan back until after they graduate from college. However, students do have to start paying if they decide to leave school.
  • Federal Direct Plus Loans for parents have higher interest rates than Direct Subsidized Loans for students. Additionally, the loan accrues interest right away, and a credit check is necessary to apply.

And last but not least, here’s a helpful government website to know your options for public colleges in New York. All you have to do is go to the webpage and type your desired college or field of study. It will give you details on the colleges and public universities in New York state to help you decide which one’s the right fit for you!

Good luck.

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