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NY Lawmakers Approve Free 4-Year Tuition For Middle-Class Students

“With this budget, New York has the nation’s first accessible college program. It’s a different model,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
“With this budget, New York has the nation’s first accessible college program. It’s a different model,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Video Credit: NYGovCuomo

Say goodbye to student loans?

New York State will become the first state in the union to offer tuition-free, four-year public college tuition to "middle-class" students.

Starting this fall, students who attend a SUNY or CUNY institution will be eligible for an Excelsior Scholarship provided their families early less than $100,000 per year. As the program is phased in over three years, the income cap will increase to $125,000 per year.

The measure was passed as part of the 2018 Fiscal Year budget.

There are 92,333 families in the Hudson Valley region with college-age children. Of them, 63 percent would be eligible for the scholarship, according to the governor's office.

“With this budget, New York has the nation’s first accessible college program. It’s a different model,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “Today, college is what high school was—it should always be an option even if you can’t afford it. The Excelsior Scholarship will make college accessible to thousands of working and middle-class students and shows the difference that government can make. 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. With this program, every child will have the opportunity that education provides.”

The scholarship does come with some conditions, however.

Students must be enrolled full-time and maintain a necessary grade point average. In addition, students will be required to work and live in New York for the same number of years after graduation as they received the scholarship.

Students who already receive federal Pell Grants or New York Tuition Assistance Grants are not eligible for the scholarship.

The governor's office says the first year of the Excelsior Scholarship will cost the state roughly $163 million, but some critics of the measure say that number is too low, according to CNN .

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