Cuomo Signs Excelsior Scholarship Program Into Law

Five student debt pitfalls

Five student debt pitfalls

In a pretty monumental feat, NY is the first state to offer universal public college tuition coverage for working and middle class residents.

For New Yorkers whose families make less than $125,000 a year, the state is preparing to pick up the tab for a college education. The scholarship only includes tuition, not room and board or other expenses like textbooks and meal plans. But, just like for other demographics, the scholarship will make a huge difference for the Latino student body.

"And for us to be the first state in the nation - to say every one of our children can go to college, if they have the talent and it doesn't matter how much money they have in their pocket - that is smart for the state", stated Cuomo.

The State Senate approved the budget Sunday night following the Assembly's approval on Saturday.

The plan will be phased in over the first three years, with tuition being free for residents who earn up to a specific income cap. This applies to families making up to $125,000 per year.

Pell Grants and New York Tuition Assistance grants already allow for more than 60 percent of CUNY students and about half of full-time SUNY students to attend tuition-free college. The Budget also includes $8 million to provide open education resources to students at SUNY and CUNY colleges.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Oregon, Tennessee and Minnesota now have programs in place to cover two-year college tuition for qualifying residents. That cap will increase to $110,000 in 2018 and $125,000 in 2019. Students must be enrolled in college full time and take at least 30 course credits a year, though those facing hardships can pause and restart the program or take fewer credits.

He argues the free tuition through the Excelsior Scholarship program is not as robust as media reports make it out to be, and private schools recognize the need to make college accessible and affordable.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature reached a deal at the weekend for free university and college tuition for less well-off families. It will still be hard for students who don't attend schools full time. Tennessee, Oregon and Minnesota have free community-college programs, with Tennessee's model lauded as a viable path for reducing higher-education costs.

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