Student Eligibility

At minimum, a student must reside in the city of Buffalo, NY and attend grades 9 – 12 at a public or charter school in Buffalo. When a student reaches 12th grade, they will meet directly with Say Yes staff in their school to complete the scholarship registration process. Additional details about student eligibility are below.

Say Yes Buffalo Scholarships are available to students who meet all of the following:

Reside in the city of Buffalo

At minimum, complete grades 9-12, in consecutive years, at a public or charter school in the city of Buffalo. With proper documentation, the following students are automatically deemed eligible regardless of consecutive years of completion in a Buffalo public or charter school:

  1. Legally designated as having McKinney-Vento status
  2. Have refugee status on an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or be an otherwise eligible noncitizen
  3. Have documented Foster Care placement or are a ward of the court, or
  4. Enroll in and complete the Buffalo Public School Adult Education College Career Institute (CCI)

Graduate from a public or charter school in Buffalo beginning in June 2013

Enroll full-time at a Say Yes Buffalo partner college within one year of high school graduation

Apply for all federal and state financial aid programs available (FAFSA and TAP), including Selective Service as required by law

Please note, students that are only eligible for a tiered award from Say Yes can also apply for Excelsior to cover the gap in tuition coverage. Please note, New York State’s Excelsior program has its own application process and deadlines

Complete all financial aid paperwork, including financial aid verification (if applicable) by December 1 for fall semesters and February 15 for spring semesters

The amount of a Say Yes Buffalo Tuition Scholarship for SUNY/CUNY schools is determined by the number of consecutive years a student has attended a public or charter school in Buffalo.

Refer to the chart below to determine the amount of tuition a student is eligible for:

Entry Grade in Buffalo Public or Charter School Percent of Tuition that Scholarship Will Cover
K 100%
1, 2, 3 95%
4, 5, 6 80%
7, 8, 9 65%


Excelsior & Say Yes

In spring 2017, New York State announced the Excelsior Scholarship, providing eligible students with the opportunity to attend a SUNY or CUNY institution tuition-free. Since Excelsior was announced, Say Yes has taken the time to evaluate how this incredible opportunity compliments our scholarship program while staying true to our core mission of ensuring access to higher education for all Buffalo students.

We have determined that Say Yes Buffalo scholars are not required to apply for the New York State Excelsior Scholarship.

Students eligible for Say Yes’ SUNY/CUNY tuition scholarships will be directed to apply for Say Yes and to NOT apply for Excelsior. Students ineligible for Say Yes can still apply for Excelsior’s tuition scholarships and students that are only eligible for a tiered award from Say Yes can apply for Excelsior to cover the gap in tuition coverage.


Specific questions about a student’s eligibility for the Excelsior Scholarship should be directed to New York State at 1‑888‑NYSHESC (1‑888‑697‑4372). Please direct any additional questions to

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