States like Tennesse, Oregon, and San Francisco have been offering free community college to low-income families but New York is now the first state to offer free state 4-year college tuition.
Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted the Excelsior scholarship in order to take some of the pressure of student loan debt off of the middle class. To qualify for the scholarship, students will have to accept a certain class load and surpass grade point average requirements.
The state budget for the scholarship topped over $160 million, and nearly 940,000 families will qualify for free state 2-year, 4-year, and community college. Students will still have to cover some of the cost of college like room, board, books, and meal plans. The average annual tuition in New York for 4-year colleges is $6,470 and $4,350 for community colleges. To qualify for the Excelsior scholarship, the student’s family must earn less than $125,000 annually.
The initiative also includes $19 million for a new tuition program for students at private colleges maxing out around $3,000 per student. Governor Cuomo says, “It is incredibly hard and getting harder to get a college education today. It is incredibly expensive. And the debt is like starting a race with an anchor tied to your leg.” Cuomo believes everyone deserves a fair shot at the American dream and success,
“The rule of the game was everybody has a fair shot at success, that is America, and when you take that away, you take away the spirit and the values that made this country this country.”