New York lawmakers approve free middle class college tuition

"The basic point is that if the taxpayers are going to pay to educate you, you're now an asset to the state and an asset to the state's economy", Mr. Cuomo told WGRZ-TV.

He pointed out that while NY has more than 7.5 million jobs, 70 percent of jobs within the state require a college education.

"It is not a luxury, it is a necessity", Cuomo said. The State University of New York (SUNY) has 64 campuses throughout the state.

It's a good day to be a New Yorker. The program will begin this fall, with about a three-year development period to follow.

"What Gov. Cuomo is proposing is a revolutionary idea in higher education", said Sen. Sanders pushed for similar policies to make public colleges free during his 2016 presidential bid.

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.

The state has passed legislation that will allow in-state middle class college students to go to school at a 2 or 4 year state school without the cost of tuition.


However, a new initiative by the state could mean the rest of the sophomore's education costs him nothing at all, as long as he meets certain requirements. By 2019, the income cap will be raised to $125,000. 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. The plan does not cover tuition for any additional semesters that might be required for a degree.

Additionally, graduates might have to limit their post-college job search to NY state.

For instance, after graduating, the recipients of the scholarship must work and live in NY for the same number of years they received funding. If students decide to move out of the NY, they are required to pay the state back.

But not everyone will benefit from the new Excelsior Scholarship.

As of Sunday night, New York's legislature approved the state's budget bills, which are expected to be signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Tennessee and OR already have made tuition free at community colleges, with Rhode Island debating a plan to fund two years of tuition at its public colleges. His office estimated more than 900,000 NY families would be eligible for the program once it is fully implemented, though outside analyses put the figure far lower.

So how much would free tuition actually help students attending NY public colleges?

  • Annette Adams