Cuomo proposes free tuition for low, middle income New Yorkers

Darin HammondJan 04, 2017

Under the Excelsior Scholarship plan outlined by Cuomo, New Yorkers whose families earn $125,000 a year or less would be able to attend a two-year or four-year public college or university tuition free.

Sanders, who campaigned for the USA presidency as an advocate for free tuition, was at the LaGuardia Community College in Queens to support Cuomo's program. Making college free was a huge pillar in Sanders' campaign past year for the Democratic nomination, and it's clear that he still intends to make a difference in that regard.

Under the Excelsior Scholarship, described as the first of its kind in the nation, students whose families make $125,000 or less per year would be eligible to attend all public universities in ny for free.

The program, which requires state legislative approval, will be a supplement to the state's Tuition Assistant Program and federal aid.

Sanders praised the plan as "revolutionary", saying students shouldn't be "punished" with tens of thousands of dollars in debt for seeking higher education. The governor's office estimates roughly 940,000 families would benefit from the plan.

Although how the program will be funded has not been disclosed, the state administration has said that almost $1 billion has been donated in support of tuition assistance already, Politico reports.

There is a "staggering $1.3 trillion in college debt" in America today, Sanders said in a statement, adding that, in NY, the average debt for a graduate of a four-year college exceeds $29,000.

As opponents of free college like to say - free college isn't really free! "The state will provide free tuition", explained Cuomo.

In 2015, the average student loan debt in NY was $29,320. Based on enrollment projections, the plan will cost approximately $163 million per year once fully phased in. "SUNY strongly supports the Excelsior Scholarship Program and we will be making it a top priority in the upcoming budget session".

"It's an idea that is going to reverberate not only throughout the state of NY, but throughout the country", he said. "New York is making a major investment in our greatest asset - our people - and supporting the dreams and ambitions of those who want a better life and are willing to work hard for it".

Tuition to a four-year SUNY school is $6,470.

Cuomo praised Sanders for his visionary discussions in his introduction of the "special guest".

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