Everything You Need To Know About Free College in New York

You read the title, now lets get down into it.

First off, the bill that passed in New York is technically a scholarship. What the Excelsior Scholarship does is cover whatever tuition costs your Pell Grant doesn't. This scholarship is predominantly targeted at lower to middle-class students as well, meaning that you qualify for the scolarship as long as your family makes less than $100,000 a year. 

This scholarship also does not apply to graduates, people who already have a bachelor's degree and are looking to get another, and people with an associate's degree only qualify if they are looking to get a bachelor's degree. 

Photo credit to TeroVesalainen

So what does it take to qualify?

Like I said, your family income must be less than $100,000 a year. The Excelsior Scholarship is only in use at state universities in New York, this means any of the 64 SUNY  or the 34 CUNY schools. This scholarship also only applies to in-state New York residents. But wait! Don't click away from the article just yet, all is not lost because according to SUNY, to qualify as a resident of New York,

"Students enrolled at University campuses are considered New York State residents if they have established their domicile in New York State. A domicile is a fixed, permanent home to which an individual intends to return whenever absent. Determination of a student’s domicile will be based on the factors set forth in section III: Persons domiciled in New York State for twelve months or more."[1]

This basically means that in order to be considered a resident of New York, you must have lived at the same address for a year before registration (gap year anyone?). I've heard Buffalo, New York is considered the Millennial town because housing is so cheap. You can find yourself a nice two bedroom apartment for $600, no joke. 

Photo credit to Stevepb

If I get the scholarship, then what?

Then you are required to take 30 credit hours a year. If you use the scholarship, you are required to stay in New York for however many years you used it to pay for your tuition. If you used it for three years, you have to stay in New York for three years after you graduate. This is the make or break for students, marrying themselves to New York for 4-8 years. The scholarship also does not cover housing costs, food, transportation, or textbooks, so those expenses will still be your own. 

All in all, there are a lot of requirements which might not work for you, but for others this might be a great deal. Will you be part of the great millennial migration east for free college?