By Darren Johnson
If you are a community college student and transferring to either a SUNY/CUNY four-year college and accepting the “free tuition” Excelsior Scholarship or a private college that is accepting the TAP Enhanced Tuition Award, you may want to check your credits. This also may apply if you are already in a SUNY/CUNY college and are merely registering for fall and want the added aid. You may need to go to summer school — and you need to act quickly — the last summer sessions start this coming week and next.
For example, if you are transferring in as a sophomore, you will need to have had successfully completed 30 credits or more (usually with a C- or better, depending on the college accepting your credits). If you are transferring in as a junior, you will need to have completed 60 credits. Not reaching those benchmarks, even if your parents earn less than the maximum $100,000 a year, means you may not qualify for the scholarship.
So, what to do? Hurry, you still can take a summer course at a community college. Summer Session II starts July 3 or July 10 and runs to mid-August at a bunch of colleges. Community colleges like Rockland, Herkimer, Schenectady and Hudson Valley have relatively affordable online courses (about $160 per credit, give or take) that can be taken easily from anywhere in the state.
Usually, you’re safe taking common courses like Sociology 101 or Psychology 101 — just be sure to email your transfer admissions counselor at the four-year school to get affirmation that the course will indeed transfer.
Now, it takes money to make money. A three-credit summer course could cost you $500 at the lowest priced community colleges. But the Excelsior awards may be up to $6000 or more, so the gamble is worth it if your parents earn less than six figures.
The course offerings at the various community colleges seem interesting. You could be anywhere in the state, for example, and take an online course in Child Growth and Development, Wellness or Ethics at Herkimer or Juvenile Delinquency or Elementary French II at Schenectady — completely online. File a “certificate of residency” from any county or borough in the State of New York, and you’re good to go.
The state is still ironing out some of the details. Maybe — or maybe not — there will be a grace period if you’re a few credits shy. But time is of the essence. It might be a safe bet to take a summer course or two if you haven’t averaged 30 credits a year in your educational journey thus far.
We’ll keep you posted.