New York Governor Proposes Free College Plan for In-State Students

If state Legislature passes New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's recently unveiled plan, students from middle- and low-income families could attend SUNY and CUNY schools tuition free.

If state Legislature passes New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recently unveiled plan, students from middle- and low-income families could attend SUNY and CUNY schools tuition free.

It’s a very happy new year for college-bound students and their families in New York State.

On January 3, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a proposal for free college for New York students from families with yearly incomes of $125,000 or less. The program, called the Excelsior Scholarship, would allow eligible full-time students to attend state and city schools, including community colleges, tuition free.

“The way this society said we are going to pay for high school because you need high school,” said Cuomo, “this society should say we’re going to pay for college because you need college to be successful.”

According to Cuomo’s administration, the program could help nearly one million families and would cost the state an estimated $163 million a year once it is in full effect by 2019, depending on participation; that amount could increase as more students become enticed by the promise of free tuition. If the program is passed by state Legislature this year, the income limit would start at $100,000 for fall 2017, then increase to $125,000 over the next three years.

The scholarship would cover tuition only and not include other expenses like room and board. Annual in-state tuition currently costs $6,740 at State University of New York (SUNY) institutions, $6,330 at City University of New York (CUNY) schools, and $4,350–$4,800 at community colleges.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) joined Cuomo for the press conference at LaGuardia Community College, and Hillary Clinton (D) tweeted her support. The two former presidential hopefuls proposed similar free college plans during their 2016 campaigns.

According to Senator Scott Reif (R-New York), “While we will have to review the specifics when the governor releases his executive budget, this proposal appears to move us in a positive direction.”

Sanders agrees: “If New York State does it this year,” he said, “mark my words: state after state will follow.”

What do you think of this free tuition proposal? Do you think it will pass? Let us know in the comments or chime in on social media!

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