NY lawmakers approve free middle class college tuition

Apr 12, 2017, 02:46

NY will become the first state to offer universal free four-year college to students living in the state, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday. A budget approved on Saturday by the Assembly, and on Sunday by the Senate, includes the Excelsior Scholarship, a program Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced in January.

Potential undergraduate students who are NY residents from families earning under a phased-in income cap will be eligible for the tuition initiative, known as the Excelsior Scholarship Program.

The tuition plan, which applies only to SUNY and CUNY schools, will be phased in over three years, with families making $100,000 or less annually eligible in the fall of 2017, with the threshold rising to $125,000 in 2019.

Under the program, any tuition that is not covered by federal Pell Grants and New York's Tuition Assistance Program will be covered, meaning it is a "last dollar" program. As a result, many low-income students will still need loans to cover expenses such as room and board, textbooks and school fees, which can cost thousands per year. After students graduate, they are expected to live and work in NY for the same number of years funding was accepted. "Altogether, the program is expected to cost NY $163 million and is expected to benefit roughly 940,000 families", reported Market Watch.

- 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.

Late Friday, budget negotiators reached a deal that could potentially make NY the largest state to offer public higher education tuition-free.

Tennessee, Oregon, and the city of San Francisco have recently made tuition free at community colleges for all residents, regardless of income. Per The Washington Post, New York is slated to offer tuition-free public higher education. "I think everyone deserves the opportunity to get an education".

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One thing all four lawmakers are happy about is a $700 million increase for foundation aid for NY schools. Free higher education is something that Bernie Sanders as possible in this country. The State University of New York (SUNY) has 64 campuses throughout the state.

Some conditions that come with the award include being enrolled full time and taking at least 30 credit hours.

Annual tuition and fees now cost in-state students about $12,884 at URI, $8,206 at RIC, and $4,266 at CCRI.

The Excelsior Scholarship is not meant to replace other merit scholarships which can be used for expenses other than tuition.

Some students are happy to hear that state lawmakers approved a plan to provide free college tuition for the middle class, while other students and lawmakers say it may hurt taxpayers.

It's still unclear exactly how much the Excelsior Scholarship program will cost. Eligible students would get a maximum of $3,000.

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