Everything You Need To Know About New York’s Free Tuition Plan

On April 10, 2017, Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, signed legislation on a new plan to make tuition to any two or four year public college free for New York residents. This program is called the Excelsior Scholarship and it is a lot more complicated than one might think.

Courtesy: TIME

 

The program is going to be phased in over the next three years, starting in the fall of 2017. When the program begins in 2017, families making less than $100,000 per year will be eligible for the scholarship, in 2018 families making less than $110,000 will be eligible and finally, in 2019, families making less than $125,000 will be eligible for the scholarship.

The scholarship is intended to supplement the funding students get from FAFSA and Pell grants, filling in the gaps that those scholarships leave. The program is mostly intended to be given to middle-class families and this is where the Excelsior Scholarship has received some backlash.

For lower income families, Pell grants and FAFSA frequently cover all of their tuition costs. While paying for classes is taken care of, it is often a struggle to pay other costs like books, housing or food. While the program only claims to be a free tuition program, some are still frustrated that low-income families will not receive any help paying for other expenses.

There’s another catch to this program that has been causing controversy: students must stay in the state of New York for as many years as they received the scholarship or pay the money back. Cuomo believes this is a fair tradeoff to give back to the state that gave the student their education, but some disagree.

Despite its controversy, there’s no denying this new legislation is a huge milestone in the fight for free higher education.