USS Scholarships are available for eligible students to apply from May 6, 2021 to June 7, 2021

Please find answers to several FAQs below. If you still need further assistance, feel free to reach out to us at



What are the eligibility requirements for the USS scholarships? Graduate students must be registered for at least 3 credits and have a GPA of 3.0. Undergraduates must be registered for at least 6 credits and have a minimum GPA of 2.5. Students must be registered for the required number of credits in the Fall semester of the year for which they are applying and must attend classes for that semester. First semester students and graduating seniors who are not returning to CUNY for the Fall 2021 semester are NOT eligible to apply.


Can my recommendation come from anyone? The recommendation letter must be from a CUNY faculty/Staff member who has overseen applicants' activities. The CUNY faculty/Staff member can be from any of the CUNY campuses.


I would like to change my recommender, but I submitted my application already. What can I do? We ask that all applicants contact their intended recommender prior to submitting their email address to make certain that the recommender is willing to write a recommendation letter for you.  All recommenders must submit the letter of recommendation through the link provided by CUNYFIRST. Letters will  NOT be accepted via email. Please also make sure that you've entered the recommenders address correctly.


Where can I send my recommendation letter? In the application, it asks that you provide the email contact for your recommender. Once that's complete, CUNYFirst will send a generated email to the recommender with instructions on how to submit the letter. 


I would like to apply for the USS Scholarship but I don't see a notification in my CUNYFIRST account, can I still apply?  If you did not receive a notification in your CUNYFIRST account this means that you do not meet the initial criteria to be eligible to apply for a USS scholarship.



I registered for Fall 2021 courses but can't find my e-bill in my CUNY First, what should I do? Navigate to your CUNYFIRST Student Center ‘Finances’ section.

  • Select eBill from the “other financial…” drop-down and click the ‘arrow’.

  • Click the ‘eBill’ button for the appropriate term to generate eBill.

  • Save the pdf document on your local pc to be able to upload in the application.


If you are still having trouble, please contact your campus bursar office to get information on how to retrieve a copy of your Fall 2021 tuition bill. 



How is the scholarship disbursed? Two steps within CUNYFIRST enable a scholarship to be applied to your account and, in the appropriate circumstances, paid or refunded directly to you.


  • The first step is for the scholarship to be “awarded”, which means it is posted to your CUNYFIRST account. Scholarships will be awarded AFTER the final Add/Drop (census) date for the Fall semester. If you have an outstanding balance (tuition and fees), the scholarship will be applied to that balance.


  • The second step is for the scholarship to be “disbursed”. This means that any funds that remain after your balance is paid are refunded directly to you. If you have no outstanding balance, the entire amount that was “awarded” will be refunded to you. This typically means that a check will be sent to you but there are other means of disbursement depending on how your account was set up. The time frames for disbursement differ from campus to campus. Many campuses disburse according to a calendar that is set up in CUNYFIRST. Some campuses may, in some instances, manually disburse your scholarship once any balances are paid.  Note that if you have been selected for verification, your scholarship cannot be disbursed until your verification process has been satisfactorily completed.


What semester(s) is this scholarship for? The University Student Senate scholarship is for the Fall 2021 semester ONLY. 


Can I apply for more than one (1) scholarship? No. Students can only apply for one scholarship.

Will this scholarship be added to my financial aid package?  Yes. Scholarships are part of your financial aid package and are subject to the limits of your financial aid budget. You cannot receive more scholarship aid than the unmet need in your financial aid budget. If your scholarship is greater than your unmet need, it may be reduced. It may be possible to adjust your financial aid budget and/or your financial aid package to accommodate your scholarship. You must consult with your campus financial aid advisor on how your scholarship could possibly affect your financial aid package and whether or not any adjustments can be made.


What is the deadline to apply? June 7th, 2021is the deadline to submit all documentation to be considered for the scholarship. No documents will be accepted after the deadline. 


When will we be notified of a decision? Applicants will be selected and notified sometime in August 2021 via email. 


How competitive is the scholarship? The USS Scholarship is very competitive. There will be one winner selected for each scholarship per campus. 


How are the scholarship applications evaluated? Applications will be evaluated on a point scale, with high emphasis on the applicants' letter of recommendation and personal statement. Which will be thoroughly reviewed by our student-lead scholarship committee. 


I haven't registered for Fall 2021 courses yet, can I upload my current semester e-bill? To be eligible for the scholarship all applicants must show proof of registration for the Fall 2021 semester. You can still apply, however, completed applications will hold priority.



Who comprises the scholarship committee? The scholarship consists of the University Student Senate Vice chairs, Delegates/Alternates and various student leaders from the CUNY Community. 


I will NOT be attending a CUNY school in the Fall, can I still apply? No. Only students who will be attending a CUNY institution in the Fall are eligible to apply.  



How are applicants selected? Applicants must submit a letter of recommendation personal-statement, and resume as part of the application process. These will be the deciding factors in determining the recipients. The applications will be reviewed by our student-lead scholarship committee and graded on a point scale. 



I'm an international student. Do I have to have a tax id to receive the scholarship, what other documents do I need? We understand that many international students do not possess a tax ID number. However, according to CUNY policy in order to make the scholarship available, each applicant is required to have a tax ID number or an ITIN to receive the award. International students must also be registered with their campus’s International Students Office and must provide a verification letter from the office stating that you are currently an international student.



Can I edit my application after I submit? You can save and edit your application. However, once you submit you will not be able to edit the application.


Can I email my documents?  All required documents must be uploaded in a PDF format through CUNYFIRST. No documents will be accepted via email. 


I am eligible to apply but when I click on the link I get an "error" message what should I do? Please try a different browser, make sure your wifi is connected and disable your pop-up blocker. We also recommend that students have downloaded the latest browser version and clear the web browser cache, then try accessing the scholarship portal again through CUNYFIRST. 


I am a student with a disability, but I do not receive services from my local campus disabilities office, can I still apply for the Donald & Mary Ellen Passantino scholarship for students with disabilities? NoTo be eligible for this scholarship you must be registered at your campus disabilities office. You must also provide a verification letter. 


How can I get more information about the University Student Senate and its mission? Yes you can, please visit our website to get more information and get involved!