Governor Cuomo’s Initiative to Eliminate Tuition Costs by Anthony Viola
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York announced plans in making public institutions tuition-free for eligible students. Families making less than $125,000 a year are eligible starting this upcoming fall. The initiative is called Excelsior Scholarships, named after the state’s motto. Some believe it will have the potential to impact millions of New Yorkers.
The proposal was announced on Tuesday at a press conference at LaGuardia Community College. It outlines a rollout strategy over the next three years, with the threshold for this fall including families making under $100,000 annually. By 2020, it will rise to the aforementioned amount. Any student who is accepted into a state or city university school, including community colleges, can take advantage of this opportunity.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders attended the event to demonstrate support. During his campaign to win the democratic nomination for president, Sanders was a strong supporter of free tuition at public colleges and universities. He found Cuomo’s idea “revolutionary” and claims “state after state will follow” if New York begins it.
In the audience was President of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) Barbara Bowen to show her support. In a statement, she displayed how thrilled she was about Cuomo’s initiative. “At a moment when college costs are rising, student debt is out of control and Americans are wary of what the future holds, New York State can re-set the national agenda for college education by enacting a fully funded investment in free public college education for low- and middle-income students,” says Bowen.
The plan raises some skepticism, as many wonder how an expensive plan can be funded. By 2019, the state will spend nearly $163 million which could be affected by participation and need-base. According to The New York Times, tuition for New York public institutions are of the lowest in the country and the state grants tuition aid grants of up to $5,165.
Although Cuomo has briefed the press on his idea, it still must be passed by state legislature before becoming effective. The plan has already gained bipartisan support from members of the New York State Assembly, many of whom have been fighting to lower tuition prices as they stand.
Until legislature votes on the matter, the tuition will remain as it stands for the next academic year.