New York will be the only state in the country to offer universal public college tuition coverage for working- and middle-class residents, on Excelsior Scholarship program. The program was included in the budget package approved Sunday night.
It will be accessible for three years according full coverage of four-year college tuition this fall for students whose families make less than $100,000. The limit of income will increase to $110,000 in 2018 and $125,000 in 2019. "With this budget, New York has the nation's first accessible college program. It's a different model," said Governor Andrew Cuomo Saturday in a statement. "Today, college is what high school was, it should always be an option even if some people can't afford it." The Excelsior Scholarship will be included in the state's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and students will see that they are eligible when they fill out the forms this spring. However, "this program does nothing to address the needs of countless low-income students and will only end up impacting a small percentage of CUNY students,” New York Assemblyman Victor M. Pichardo, based in the Bronx, argued. Costs of housing, food and transportation are not covered, he said. The actual budget includes a record $7.5 billion for higher education. Free coverage of two-year colleges already exists in Tennessee, Oregon, and Minnesota and some other states prepare to do the same.