New York may very well be on its way to offering free tuition to four-year colleges.
The plan, which is called the Excelsior Scholarship, would allow any NY student whose family has an annual income of $125,000 or less to attend one of the state’s public community colleges or public four-year universities for free (however room and board would not be covered).
To qualify the student would have to be enrolled full-time, maintain a certain grade point average, and a number of credits each year.
The tuition-free degree program is included in the $163 billion state budget approved by lawmakers this past Sunday, and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“College is today what high school was 50 years ago,” Cuomo said in a radio interview Sunday on AM 970 in New York City. “If you’re a young person who wants success and a career, a college education is necessary.”
“There is no child who will go to sleep tonight and say, I have great dreams, but I don’t believe I’ll be able to get a college education because parents can’t afford it,” Cuomo added. “With this program, every child will have the opportunity that education provides.”
According to a report from ABC 7, the tuition plan will be phased in over three years, with families making $100,000 or less annually eligible in the fall of 2017, and the threshold rising to $125,000 in 2019. An estimated 940,000 families will qualify.
The initiative also includes $19 million for a new tuition award program for students at private colleges.
Sen. Bernie Sanders voiced his support of the program saying “What Governor Cuomo is proposing is a revolutionary idea for higher education. It’s an idea that’s going to reverberate not only throughout the State of New York but throughout this country.”