Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New York to Become the Largest State to Offer Tuition-Free Public Higher Education

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New York to Become the Largest State to Offer Tuition-Free Public Higher Education

Article excerpt

Budget negotiators struck a deal late Friday that will could make New York the largest state to offer tuition-free public higher education to residents.

The $153 billion state budget agreement includes the Excelsior Scholarship, which covers tuition for any New Yorker accepted to one of the state's community colleges or four-year universities, provided their family earns less than $125,000 a year.

Proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January, the scholarship taps into one of the Democratic Party's most popular ideas and advances a bipartisan movement to lower the cost of college that is taking shape across the country.

"Today, college is what high school was it should always be an option even if you can't afford it," Cuomo said, in a statement Saturday. "With this program, every child will have the opportunity that education provides."

The scholarship program 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. Nearly 1 million families will qualify .

It is 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. Students must be enrolled in college full time and take at least 30 course credits a year, though those facing hardships can pause and restart the program or take fewer credits.

Not much changed from the initial proposal, including the $163 million estimated cost for the first year of the program, though there were some concessions to win over lawmakers. …

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