New York State is the First to Implement Free Tuition

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Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Governor Cuomo. Photo credit to Governor.ny.gov

By: Ryan Bagley

“Excelsior” in the original Latin translates to “beyond lofty.” The definition that people have come to know, however, is a rallying cry of success.

“Superior.”

On April 8, the New York State Budget was announced, and it contained an idea that had a path identical to that of its namesake.

The Excelsior Scholarship will make public colleges and universities in New York State tuition-free for families that make less than $125,000 annually. The program is set to be implemented in stages, as most fiscal programs are. Beginning in the fall of 2017, public colleges and universities will be tuition-free for families with an income that falls below $100,000. In 2018, it will be increased to $110,000 and the program will reach it’s ultimate goal of $125,000 in 2019.

According to a table on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s website, 75.7 percent of families with college-age students are eligible for the program, or around 942,186 families.

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Photo credits to Govenor.ny.gov

There is a catch to coverage on such a large scale, however, that makes it far more of a loan than a handout.

In order to keep the money, students will have to remain in New York State for the same number of years that they received assistance. With the state barely remaining in the pink with “brain drain” numbers as of late, this provision is meant to ensure that students don’t simply leave with the knowledge they earned tuition-free by means of state-only expenditures.

“Students are required … as the program makes a major investment in the state’s greatest asset – our young people – scholars will be required to live and work in-state for the same number of years after graduation as they received the scholarship while in school,” Governor Cuomo’s website read.

The state hopes to lead the way with this endeavor, cementing its place in history as an advocate for students and the common family looking for a better life.

“With this Budget, New York is once again leading the nation and showing what responsible government can achieve. The result is a Budget that advances the core progressive principles that built New York: investing in the middle class, strengthening the economy and creating opportunity for all,” according a statement from Governor Cuomo.

The College at Brockport Financial Aid is not positive yet how many students will benefit, but with 75.7 percent of families eligible, they expect the number to be high.

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