New York Proposes Country's First Free College Plan

04 January, 2017, 00:44 | Author: Celia Hoffman
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo along with other government officials and a development team break ground

U.S. Sen. Bernard "Bernie" Sanders, I-Vt., also joined Gov. Cuomo in announcing the program.

From the start of his presidential campaign in 2015, Sanders promised to make tuition free for everyone who attends state colleges.

At LaGuardia Community College in Queens, the governor revealed he would ask the State Legislature to allocate $163 million to create the "Excelsior Scholarship," which will offer free tuition full-time State University of NY and City University of NY students from households earning up to $125,000 per year. "According to the New York Times, said restrictions include "[eligibility] provided they or their family earn $125,000 or less annually".

According to The Hill, the program, which still needs legislative approval, is expected to cost the state $163 million a year when fully implemented in 2019.

"If you come from any family making $125,000 or less, the state will provide free tuition", Cuomo said during an event today at LaGuardia College.

Now, it is up to the lawmakers of the state to decide if the plan is the right one for their state.

"College is a mandatory step if you really want to be a success", Cuomo said during a press conference. Additional state funds would cover the remaining tuition costs for incoming or existing eligible students.

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The bill is estimated to cost $800,000 in tax credits for New York's farmers who donate excess fruits and vegetables, up to $5,000 per farmer.

SUNY this year is seeking to let its 29 two- and four-year colleges raise tuition in each of the next four years by $100, $200 or $300.

"Senator Sanders spoke for the middle class and the working men and won all across this nation and the issues that are important to them", Gov. Cuomo said in his address. The governor says that more than 940,000 middle-class families would qualify. In recent years, the United States has fallen behind other countries in the percentage of students who complete degrees, and there are sizable gaps in college completion between white students and students of color, who make up a growing portion of the nation's young people.

The governor didn't detail how the free tuition program would be fully paid for, but the release stated the initiative will leverage New York State's Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), which provides almost $1 billion in grants to college students statewide.

The State University Of New York Student Assembly issued a statement announcing its support for the proposal.

Tuition is $6,470 at the four-year colleges. NY spends about $10 billion a year on higher education.

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