New York lawmakers approve free middle class college tuition

Getty ImagesGov. Andrew Cuomo

The plan, which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced back in January, was approved Sunday by the state Senate, after receiving the OK from the state Assembly a day earlier.

But not everyone will benefit from the new Excelsior Scholarship.

That accounts for half of SUNY and 60 per cent of CUNY students. The program will be phased in over three years, beginning in fall 2017. That cap will lift to $110,000 the next year and ultimately reach up to $125,000 in 2019. It's based on the adjusted gross income reported on the family's most recent tax return.

You get a degree! There is no sliding scale and the threshold does not take into consideration how many children are in the family.

"Why should New Yorkers pay for your college education and then you pick up and you move to California?"

The Excelsior Scholarship - passed as part of the state budget on Sunday - will provide free tuition to students attending the State University or City University of ny if their families earn $125,000 or less per year.

Is there an age limit?

It will still be hard for students who don't attend schools full time.


The scholarship is meant to complement other federal and state grants, as the report notes.

Could students lose the scholarship?

They say it excludes students who enroll part time.

But there will be exceptions.

The final plan carries a number of restrictions inserted by the Legislature, that were not in Cuomo's original proposal, that are created to avoid misuse of the scholarship, and could limit the number of students who qualify. Recipients must also take 30 credits per year, keep the GPA necessary to stay in school, and graduate on time. Other expenses can add up to $14,000 a year. To qualify the student would have to meet certain class load and grade point average restrictions, and room and board would not be covered. Books could run you another $1,000. He said, "This program does nothing to address the needs of countless low-income students and will only end up impacting a small percentage of CUNY students". There are no caps on the amount of residents who can receive full tuition.

State four-year schools in NY cost $6,470 per year to attend, with community colleges costing $4,350 per year. The scholarship does not remove tuition, but covers the difference between tuition and existing aid.

Those eligible will pay nothing for tuition. Cuomo estimates that almost a million New Yorkers would qualify for an Excelsior Scholarship by the program's full roll-out in 2019. The restrictions would also give the colleges some control. The state congress is expected to approve the plan by Monday.

After graduation, students who are given the scholarship must then remain living and working in NY for a minimum of the same number of years they had been given the funding. Clinton served as one of New York's U.S senators from 2001 to 2009.

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