If you’re searching the Internet for information about Excelsior Scholarship – New York’s new free tuition program – you are likely to end up at an unexpected website – http://www.medaille.edu.
And when you start reading, you are urged to read the “fine print” in the Excellsior program.
Parents and students should understand that the state’s new program will benefit only a small portion of applicants, and that many students may find better value at private colleges like Medaille, said college President Kenneth M. Macur.
That probably is not the message Gov. Andrew Cuomo intended when he pitched free tuition at SUNY colleges earlier this year.
Macur, an outspoken critic of the new scholarship program, considers Excelsior misleading and unfair because it comes with several strings attached and doesn’t apply to private college students.
Macur also has a sense of humor.
In May, a few weeks after the state legislature and Cuomo agreed on a 2017-18 budget that included funding for Excelsior, Macur asked staff at the college to see if any web domain names with Excelsior Scholarship in them were still available.
Seven domain names were found, so the college snapped them up at less than $10 each.
“They all redirect to the medaille.edu website,” Macur said.
Anyone who types ExcelsiorScholarships.com, ExcelsiorScholarship.net, ExcelsiorScholarship.info or Excelsior Scholarship.us in a web browser will end up at a page on the Medaille website that encourages students to take closer look.
Graduates at the private colleges tend to complete their degrees more quickly than at most public colleges and universities, Macur contends.
“We’re very comfortable in telling students to pick the college that fits for them,” he said.
The domain names have attracted just 164 visitors since mid May, but that wasn’t really the point.
“It’s more just, ‘Let’s have some fun,'” Macur said.
The domain names haven’t caught the eye of Cuomo or other state leaders, either. The Buffalo college of 2,600 students isn’t exactly on their radar, Macur said.
But other private schools in Western New York are aware of Medaille’s online caper.
“Everybody thinks it’s just hilarious,” he said.