Over the weekend, New York State's Republican-led Senate and Democrat-led Assembly approved their new state budget, including the portion proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that would make public colleges and universities free for middle- and lower-class students.
The new plan, which is part of a deal struck by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the lawmakers as part of the state's new nearly US$160 billion budget, would see the state covering tuition for any student from a family earning less than US$125,000 a year by 2019.
Titled the Excelsior Scholarship, the bill will cover the tuition costs for students attending a State University of New York (SUNY) or City University of New York (CUNY) school and whose families makes $100,000 or less.
- In what is being called a historic move, NY will be the first state in the nation to offer free public college tuition to middle-class students.
It is revealed about 80 percent of the families in NY with college-age kids could use the Excelsior Scholarship program.
Students who receive the scholarship are required to enroll full-time, take an average of 30 credits per year, maintain the necessary GPA to stay in school and graduate on time. If they choose to move the scholarship would be reversed and turned into a loan that students would have to pay back.
Governor Andrew Cuomo released a statement mentioning, "With this budget, NY has the nation's first accessible college program".
"And free college initiatives can cost states anywhere from $42.8 million (Delaware) to $4.96 billion (California) in revenue from tuition in just the first year, according to a report released last October by the Campaign for Free College Tuition".
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That $32,200 balance, however, reflects loan balances for students of all NY schools, including high-priced private schools. Cuomo says the idea is to provide new economic opportunities for New Yorkers by making college more affordable.
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) New York is set to make tuition at public colleges and universities free for middle-class students. This doesn't include students who already have Pell Grants or New York Tuition Assistance grants.
The program pertains to all State University of New York (SUNY) or City University of New York (CUNY) schools.
But students with Excelsior Scholarship have their tuition frozen at today's price. The Excelsior Scholarship will cover the remaining cost of tuition, but can't be used to cover additional costs for fees or room and board.
Governor Cuomo announced the scholarship in January alongside Senator Bernie Sanders.
College students who take an Econ 101 course usually learn that there's no such thing as a free lunch, and it seems New York's "free" college is no exception.
The state estimates that 940,000 families with college-aged children will qualify for free tuition.