New York State Enacts Free College Tuition Plan

Cheryl Sanders
April 27, 2017

NY is officially the first and only state in the U.S.to cover four-year public college tuition for residents.

More than 75 percent of NY families with college-aged children will be eligible for the scholarship, the governor's office said in a statement. It covers tuition at state universities for full-time, in-state students whose families earn $125,000 or less, though students still will pay out of pocket for room, board and other expenses. But, just like for other demographics, the scholarship will make a huge difference for the Latino student body.

"This economy, you need a college education if you're going to compete", New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "With this program, every child will have the opportunity that education provides". There's also an income cap, which will be phased in over the first three years.


The scholarship, dubbed the Excelsior Scholarship, is available for undergraduates enrolled at a SUNY or CUNY school whose families earn less than $100,000 per year.

The final budget includes an additional $19 million to create a new financial assistance program for private school students whose families make under the income cap, according to the governor. In-state tuition at both universities is about $6,500 a year. He said, "This program does nothing to address the needs of countless low-income students and will only end up impacting a small percentage of CUNY students".

Another part of the program - students must stay in NY for the same amount of years they receive the scholarship.


Starting this fall, the scholarship will be available for New Yorkers attending a State University of NY or City University of NY school full time.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that the requirement was added to protect the state's investment in a student's education by ensuring they don't take advantage of free tuition and then leave ny. Tennessee, Oregon and Minnesota have free community-college programs, with Tennessee's model lauded as a viable path for reducing higher-education costs. On Monday, however, New Yorkers woke up to the news that Governor Andrew Cuomo's inclusion of free college in the state budget, originally proposed in January, was approved by the state Senate late Sunday night.

But int terms of free college tuition, NY is far ahead of California.


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