Free Tuition In New York!!

On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a proposal to give free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students statewide at State University of New York and City University of New York colleges. Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, stood alongside Cuomo during the announcement. Also, the scholarship received tentative support from state senate Republican leaders. The plan was not explained during the announcement, but this is what we know so far..

How much will it cost? The governor's office estimates the scholarship will cost the state $163 million to cover tuition costs for SUNY and CUNY students.

Where will the money come from? It's not yet entirely clear, but an existing state-funded tuition subsidy of nearly $1 billion is already given to students statewide through the Tuition Assistance Program. The plan as proposed would draw from additional state funds to cover the remaining costs for incoming or existing eligible students, according to the governor's office.

Does the announcement mean free college? No, there are other significant costs associated with attending SUNY or CUNY schools besides tuition. SUNY students receiving current in-state tuition for SUNY students getting a bachelor's degree is $6,470, room and board is $12,590, and student fees are $1,590, for example. At CUNY, current in-state tuition for students getting their bachelor's degree is $6,330, and residence costs are $20,295 for students who live away from home. Students getting their associate's degrees pay $4,350 in tuition at SUNY schools.

When would it go into effect? As early as the upcoming fall semester, if it passes.

Who is eligible? The scholarship will be awarded based on a family's income. If passed, it would be phased in to include more and more families over three years. In the first year, households making up to $100,000 would qualify. That would increase to $110,000 in 2018 and $125,000 in 2019, according to Cuomo's office. According to statistics from Cuomo's office, an estimated 940,000 households statewide make less than $125,000 a year and have college-aged children. The governor's office estimates that 210,000 students would take advantage of the scholarship.

Can existing students take advantage of this? A news release said state funds would cover costs for both incoming and existing eligible students.

In addition to income criteria, do you still have to qualify academically? Liapis said academic requirements, if there are any, have not been described. Students are, however, eligible for TAP benefits the moment they are accepted to SUNY or CUNY schools.

Would it apply to the state's community colleges? Yes, Liapis said.

What impact will this have on private colleges? It remains to be seen, but presidents of two Western New York private university presidents told Buffalo Business First they are worried about losing students to schools that offer free tuition.

Can students get the scholarship if they attend part-time? No, the program requires students be enrolled full time toward receiving a two-year and four-year degree. Cuomo's office said this requirement is a way to encourage students to finish their degrees quickly and avoid debt. Liapis said it's too soon to say whether students could continue to receive the tuition if they attend university full-time but take longer than two years to complete two-year degrees or four years to complete four-year degrees.

What's the next step? The scholarship proposal will have to be introduced as a bill, approved by both houses of the state legislature and accounted for in the state budget passed by April first. If the bill passes, the legislature and Cuomo signs it, it becomes law.'

This is the right direction for providing education for ALL. No matter what problems free tuition comes with, no student should be deprived the opportunity of an education or live in debt because of it.

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