NY makes tuition free, but students must stay after college

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The Excelsior Scholarship is a first-in-the-nation plan that will let ny residents whose families makes up to $125,000 per year attend the state's public colleges and universities for free.

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. Each year until 2019, the income cap will lift until it reaches $125,000. If students take advantage of the tuition plan, they must stay in NY after graduation for the same number of years they received the scholarship. If they leave the state, their scholarship will be converted into a loan.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed the idea in January, and this week he praised the legislature for making it a reality.

The plan will be phased in over the first three years, with tuition being free for residents who earn up to a specific income cap. "It should always be an option even if you can't afford it", Gov. Cuomo said of his groundbreaking proposal.

This is part of New York's Excelsior Scholarship Program. Their families must earn no more than $100,000. The City University of New York (CUNY) includes 24 senior and community colleges and graduate schools across New York City, which is home to more than 40 percent of the almost 20 million people who live in New York.

Assemblyman James Skoufis (D, Woodbury) criticized fellow Democrat Governor Cuomo's higher education plan in the new state budget.

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The Washington Post reported earlier that any NY resident accepted into a four-year course to any NY community college or university must earn less than $125,000 per year.

President Zvi Szafran says tuition is about $6,500 at all SUNY schools, but that could change.

After complaints by Republican State Assembly lawmakers, a portion of the planned money has also been set aside for students at private colleges. Students who live on campus, however, will still be subject to charges for room and board as well as other related fees, which run $14,000. The Budget additionally includes $8 million to provide open educational resources, including e-books, to students at SUNY and CUNY colleges to help defray the prohibitive cost of textbooks.

When the program goes into effect, about 200,000 students will be eligible.

"With this budget, NY has the nation's first accessible college program". According to the Upjohn Institute, at least 85 initiatives at the municipal and state level are present, their aim is to cover the cost of tuition at community colleges.

Students will be able to see if they are eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship Program this spring when it is included in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Having more educated workers will attract businesses to NY, he says.