New York Offers Free Four-Year College Studies For Residents

The Excelsior Scholarship will cover tuition for any New Yorkers whose families earn less than $125,000 a year and who are accepted to one of the state's public community colleges or public four-year universities ― which cost approximately between $4,350 and $6,470 annually.

Under the program, which was proposed by Gov. Cuomo in 2017, an estimated 940,000 middle-class families and individuals would qualify to attend college tuition-free at all CUNY and SUNY two- and four-year colleges in the State.

The income cap will increase to $110,000 in 2018 and $125,000 in 2019.

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.

- The Excelsior Scholarship is a last-dollar program, which means students must use their Pell grants and existing state Tuition Assistance funds to cover tuition first before Excelsior kicks in to cover the rest.


This tuition break will only cover tuition, students will still be responsible for text books, room and board and other additional costs.

NY may very well be on its way to offering free tuition to four-year colleges. The governor's office said it expects it to cost $163 million in the first year, before it's fully phased in. OR and San Francisco have made community college tuition free of charge and legislation in Rhode Island is rumored to be organizing a proposal similar to New York's for two-year schools, according to CNN. Many states are working to make community college free, or have already done so. I think students make their decisions to go to one college over another for many, many different reasons, financing being one of them, to be sure. If they do not follow through with that requirement, the scholarship will be converted to a loan.

And the agreement seemingly has something for everyone in Albany: Assembly Democrats can claim a victory with juvenile justice reform and raising the age of criminal responsibility in NY. Proponents of free college programs were also critical of the portion of the act requiring students to stay in state; however, previous iterations of this conversation focused on states like ME, which frequently lose students to out-of-state job opportunities.

We've also learned you must maintain a 2.0 GPA to remain tuition free.

"While New York succeeded in passing a free tuition program, other states might not see the same degree of success". Private schools that participate in the new financial assistance program for private schools would have to match that funding and promise not to raise the student's tuition during their enrollment.

  • Annette Adams