NYS Free Tuition Comparison

At Canisius, academic quality, student success and Catholic, Jesuit values remain central to our mission. This means a steadfast commitment to providing our students with a values-based education that balances rigorous academics and experiential learning.

Part of our mission is to help make a Canisius, private education accessible to all qualified students, regardless of financial circumstance. More than 98% of our students receive financial aid in the form of scholarships and need-based grants --free aid that does not require repayment.  

New York State’s 2018 budget includes funding for the Excelsior Scholarship, a program providing "free" undergrduate tuition at any of the state’s SUNY or CUNY institutions for students whose families earn up to $100,000 per year. While Canisius College supports the excellent system of public and private education in New York that provides both choice and opportunity for all students, we believe it is important for people comparing public and private options to be informed.

Below is a comparison of financial aid under the SUNY/CUNY Excelsior Scholarship Plan and Canisius:

SUNY/CUNY Excelsior Program Canisius Financial Aid
The Excelsior Scholarship is not guaranteed for all applicants. Due to the program's budget cap, funding will likely be insufficient to accommodate the 900,000 potentially eligible students across the state. All institutional aid offered by Canisius, including scholarships and grants, is guaranteed for eligible students.
The program covers tuition costs only. Room/board, student fees and other expenses are the responsibility of the student. Housing costs plus student fees at large state institutions typically range from $14,000 to $15,000 per year. Financial aid awards are applied to the full cost of attendance including tuition, fees, room and board. After financial aid is taken into account, the average resident student at Canisius pays $17,946, a net cost that is comparable to public college tuition.
Program participants are required to enroll full time. To remain eligible, students must carry a course load of 30 credit hours per year and maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0. Part-time students and students taking fewer than 30 credit hours per year are not eligible.

$94 million in scholarships and grants is awarded each year to freshmen and transfers who enroll full time. Other than maintaining financial eligibility and a minimum academic grade point average, there are no conditions to receiving Canisius institutional aid.

Students must graduate on time or see a portion of their scholarships convert to loans. Students who remain in college beyond the standard duration of the degree program in which they are enrolled (two, four or five years), will be required to pay back the amount awarded for each additional year. The four-year graduation rates at SUNY and CUNY are 49% and 21% respectively. Students are eligible for financial aid for each year of attendance, regardless of how many years they are enrolled. The four-year graduation rate at Canisius is currently 60%.
Graduates will be required to live and work in New York State for the same number of years that funding was received. Students who move out of New York prematurely will see their scholarships convert to loans. There are no limitations to career mobility at Canisius. Students have the freedom to pursue career opportunities in any state or country upon graduation.

Here are some additional facts to consider: 

  • On average, Canisius students who take out loans to cover unmet costs graduate with only $25,000 in debt, lower than many SUNY schools.
  • Canisius ranks in the top third of colleges across Upstate New York for highest potential annual earnings according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
  • Canisius’ three-year loan default rate is a low 3.4%, far below the national average of 11.3%, an indicator of our graduates’ success in the job market.  
  • At Canisius, a highly student-centered education is made possible in part by an average class size of 17 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1.
  • U.S. News & World Report places Canisius 23rd out of 137 regional universities in the North in its 2017 ranking of America’s Best Colleges, and 8th out of 42 regional universities in the 2017 Best Value category.
  • The independent media organization Newsmax ranks Canisius #11 on its 2016 list of Top 40 Traditional Catholic and Jesuit Colleges in America.

View a full list of Canisius rankings and distinctions

Learn more about scholarships and financial aid at Canisius

For more information
Please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at 716-888-2200 or email admissions@canisius.edu with any questions.


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