(TIML NEWS) After NY Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled his plan to have public colleges be tuition free back in January, many people doubted that it would ever become a reality.
Well, it looks like NY public colleges will indeed be one step closer to being free after both the Assembly and the Senate approved budget bills over the weekend, making the state the only one in the country to cover four-year college tuition.
“With this budget, New York has the nation’s first accessible college program. It’s a different model,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo Saturday in a statement. “Today, college is what high school was—it should always be an option even if you can’t afford it.”
Word on the street is, the state’s Excelsior Scholarship program will begin full coverage for students entering school in the fall and whose families make less than $100, 000 annually. The income cap will gradually increase over the next three years to $110,000 in 2018 and $125,000 in 2019
According to Cuomo’s office, the budget includes a record $7.5 billion for higher education — though that’s only a 6.3 percent increase from 2016.
An estimated 80 percent of New York State’s families with college-age kids could use the new program.
The Excelsior Scholarship will be included in the state’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and students will see that they are eligible when they fill out the forms this spring.
There is no age limit for the program; students must be enrolled full-time with an average of at least 30 credits per year and meet the minimum GPA requirement for their program.
The state is also investing $8 million in electronic books in order to lower costs for students, a spokesperson for Cuomo’s office told NBC News.
Sen. Bernie Sanders has always been an advocate for education being accessible to everyone especially with his introduction of the College for All Act, so it’s not a surprise that he is a key influence behind the major project.
“Higher education in America should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few,” Sanders said in an April 3rd statement via NBC News. “If we are to succeed in a highly competitive global economy and have the best-educated workforce in the world, public colleges and universities must become tuition-free for working families and we must substantially reduce student debt.”
As for now, states like Tennessee, Oregon, and Minnesota all cover tuition for two-year college.
One small step for man … one giant step for education! Let’s chat below!