Free Tuition’s in a New York State of Mind

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by: Tori Kuhr 

If you go to a private college, you’re out of luck; New York State will be the first state to make tuition free for state colleges.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo created the program to simulate a scholarship for eligible recipients. The Excelsior Scholarship is awarded to students whose parents make under the cap of $100,000 a year. Under this enactment, scholarship winners would only have to pay for room and board. However, students will have more competition in the coming years, as the cap is expected to increase.

The high-income cap is a disadvantage for students who float near the poverty line. Many times, parents who make more than $100,000 a year are not eligible for benefits from Free Assistance for Federal Student Aid or the Tuition Assistance Program because it’s assumed the parents can afford college — but now, these students will be eligible for the Excelsior award. Still, this can potentially take away from underprivileged students who need it more.

Requirements for the scholarship include: taking 30 credits over the span of a year (excluding part-time students) and the students must live and work in New York as long as they continue to receive funding. An out-of-state move would turn the scholarship into a loan in the eyes of its original beholder.

One problem of this plan is underestimation of the budget. Currently unaccounted for, pre-determined funds are needed for the program to materialize. Cuomo predicts the program will cost roughly $163 million in the first year of its establishment. He also believes 200,000 students will be eligible. Where the money will come from remains to be seen.