New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is forging ahead with one of the Democratic Party’s most popular ideas by proposing to cover tuition for low- and middle-income students at state colleges and universities.
Any New Yorker accepted to one of the state’s community colleges or four-year universities will be eligible for free tuition provided their family earns less than $125,000 a year. The new initiative will be phased in over three years, beginning for New Yorkers making up to $100,000 annually in the fall of 2017, increasing to $110,000 in 2018, and reaching $125,000 in 2019. It would be a last-dollar program, meaning the state would cover any tuition left over after factoring in federal Pell Grants and New York’s Tuition Assistance Program.
Cuomo aims to roll out the initiative, dubbed the Excelsior Scholarship, beginning this fall, pending legislative approval. His administration estimates that the scholarship will cost at least $163 million in the first year, a price tag that could rise alongside participation. Nearly 1 million families would qualify for the program.