Excelsior Program opens alternate avenues for affordable education

By: Hugh Brown

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – The Excelsior Program is a large, state-funded scholarship that helps send residents of New York State to public college, specifically SUNY schools. The Excelsior program has recently come into effect, and has already drastically impacted enrollment numbers at Niagara University and Canisius College.

The NU administration has recently responded to Excelsior by changing their financial aid programs to match the criteria of the program. Critics of Excelsior point out that it is unfair for the state government to come in and implement this program as it has had a severe impact on enrollment at private colleges and universities. The Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) aids students get into private colleges. The state supplies schools like NU with funds to provide aid to applicable students. With Excelsior, there is less money in the state budget to give to HEOP. Instead of students going to schools like NU or Canisius, their financial options limit them to go to SUNY state schools to get an education.

HEOP and NUOP, the Niagara University Opportunities Program, are both severely threatened by Excelsior.

Critics are also calling out the vagueness in the rules of who does and does not qualify to receive Excelsior.

Excelsior is an amazing opportunity for students and to shame it is a problem. With education becoming increasingly difficult for students to obtain, it’s not the time for administrators to criticize it so harshly. NU specifically has seemed to struggle, as a large part of their appeal to students was affordability. Prior to Excelsior, it wasn’t uncommon for it to cost some students less to go to NU than it was to go to a SUNY school.

To criticize the state government for trying to provide people with the opportunity of affordable education is, quite frankly, elitist. Just because there is another viable option for education that is different than the one you provide does not make it a bad thing. While NU is not given as much money to send students to their school, Excelsior is an unnecessary battle for NU to fight.

NU administration should stop worrying about getting subsidies and instead focus on improving our own school. This is not a concern of public versus private school or low enrollment rates. NU is fixating on the negative effects of Excelsior rather than solely focusing on finding solutions to its own problems.


Feature image via the State of New York.

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