New York Will Become the First State to Offer Free Public College

New York Will Become the First State to Offer Free Public College

New York may be notorious for its high cost of living (hi, Manhattan rental prices), but one program could make it more affordable for students attending two- and four-year public colleges in the state.

A tuition-free plan introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo in January got the green light this weekend from the New York State Assembly and Senate to be included in the state budget, which the governor is expected to sign, reports CNN Money.

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The new Excelsior Scholarship will be available to students from families earning up to $100,000 a year starting this fall at State University of New York and City University of New York colleges. Tuition will be waived under the program, which runs from $6,330 to $6,470 for state residents at four-year colleges and about $4,350 a year at New York community colleges. But as we all know, it’s not just the base tuition that drives up the cost of college — additional expenses like room and board, books, course fees and the like won’t be covered under the scholarship.

Additionally, students will be expected to take 30 credits per year to be eligible for the scholarship, although this requirement is flexible for students facing hardship or needing to pause or restart the program over their academic career.

Students granted the scholarship will be required to live and work in New York for the same number of years they received waived tuition. Students who choose to pursue life after college outside of the state will have their scholarship amount converted into a loan.

The three-year phase in will up the income cap to $110,000 for the 2018 academic year and reach a $125,000 household income limit by 2019, at which point an estimated 940,000 students could qualify for free tuition.

While some states and cities have recently made tuition free at community colleges, this endeavor is the first to provide the option at four-year public colleges.

“Today, college is what high school was — it should always be an option even if you can’t afford it,” said Governor Cuomo in a statement. “With this program, every child will have the opportunity that education provides.”

Whether or not you’re college-bound for New York this fall, we hope this is a good sign for the future of free and affordable college tuition across the board.

RELATED: How to Negotiate a Better Financial Aid Package

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