New York lawmakers approve free middle class college tuition

Posted April 13, 2017

The state of New York now has "free" college tuition at New York state colleges and universities, that is, "free" for its students, primarily at the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) schools and includes two-year community colleges and four-year universities.

Under terms of the deal, students who accept free tuition to SUNY or CUNY schools would be required to live and work in ny for the same number of years as they accepted the benefit, or the free tuition would be converted into a student loan.

The income cap will increase to $110,000 next year and will reach $125,000 in 2019.

However, it won't pay for the cost of room and board on campus, which can come to $14,000 per year.

Students who receive free tuition and then leave the state for an advanced degree won't have to pay the money back assuming they return to NY once they complete their graduate studies.

Cuomo first announced his plan for free tuition back in January alongside U.S. Sen.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo estimates that some 942,000 students will be eligible for the program, or around 75 percent of the college-age students in the state.

"Today, college is what high school was - it should always be an option even if you can't afford it", Cuomo said in a statement Saturday.

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The Excelsior Scholarship will be rolled out over a three-year period. Beginning this fall, tree tuition will be available to students from families making less than $100,000 per year.

Tuition at the State University of NY schools costs $6,470 for in-state students, while community colleges cost $4,350 for residents.

The Budget provides a record $7.5 billion in total support for higher education, a $448 million, or 6.3 percent, increase over previous year.

The state of NY now has the only universal program with the only requirements being residency, income. The move is said to be a part of the state budget agreement.

The amendment - which was not part of Cuomo's original offer of free college for middle- class students - was added at the insistence of Republicans in the state Senate.

"It gives a lot of students the opportunity now to pursue an education", noted Nnenna Onwuchekwa, a UAlbany Freshman. Additionally, part-time students are not eligible for the scholarship-a 30-credit yearly minimum is required.

Do graduates have to stay in NY? Having more educated workers will attract businesses to NY, he says.

President at Monroe Community College, Anne Kress, says she's not so sure that this program will take students away from private schools. The national average for a state's four-year public university runs $6,614.