College in New York has just become more accessible to people. That’s because the tuition fee for public colleges is now free.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been hard at work to make this a reality since January. In fact, he introduced his tuition-free legislation around that time. Following this, lawmakers recently decided to include Cuomo’s plan in the state budget. It was then approved by Assembly on Saturday, followed by the Senate on Sunday. With Cuomo expected to sign the budget bills, New York is set to be the first state to make college tuition-free.
“Today, college is what high school was—it should always be an option even if you can’t afford it,” Cuomo explained in a statement. The new program is expected to benefit as many as 940,000 families with children at the right age for college. Aside from the free tuition, the program has set aside $8 million in budget to help provide educational resources to students qualified for the scholarship.
The program is known as the Excelsior Scholarship. It is available for families making up to $125,000 year. According to Cuomo, the program will be phased in over three years. This means that starting this fall, families who earn $100,000 a year will become eligible. By next year, families with an income of $110,000 will also become eligible. And by 2019, the income cap will reach $125,000.
With the program, working and middle-class families who qualify can send their children to public colleges and universities for free. As far as schools go, options for free education include The City University of New York and the State University of New York System. Here, students will be able to take two-year and four-year college courses using the scholarship.
Students must take full credits and maintain good grades for the scholarship.
For students to continue to qualify for the scholarship, they must be enrolled in school full-time. That means they need to take 30 credits each year and have the option to take some of them in the summer. On the other hand, students with disabilities will not be required to register full-time to become eligible for the scholarship. They may choose to take fewer credits in a semester or another. In addition, students will also be required to maintain a certain grade point average to maintain the scholarship.
On the other hand, the scholarship comes with another condition once the student graduates from college. According to Cuomo, students will be required to live and work in New York for the same number of years they went to college after they have graduated.