Throughout the presidential election, Democratic and progressive candidates occasionally sparred on the matter of college tuition. Bernie Sanders initially took the conversation to the national stage after proposing a promising (though problematic) federal plan for free college tuition, whereas his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton offered a similar (though just as troublesome) proposal for “debt-free” school costs. Seeing as how a collegiate education is the least of President-elect Donald Trump’s worries, whether or not the issue ever reaches the national spotlight again anytime soon remains to be seen.
Thanks to New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, however, that may change sooner than expected. That’s because the former New York Attorney General is proposing a new plan that would offer free tuition at state colleges — so long as students meet the measure’s particular financial restrictions. According to the New York Times, said restrictions include “[eligibility] provided they or their family earn $125,000 or less annually.”
Cuomo will reportedly unveil the plan alongside Sen. Sanders at an event in Queens:
Called the Excelsior Scholarship, the funds are envisioned as a way to complete tuition payments by supplementing existing state and federal loan and grant programs, according to administration officials who have been briefed about the governor’s plans but spoke on the condition of anonymity because Mr. Cuomo has not publicly announced the program.
Precisely how Cuomo and the team behind the rumored state legislation will fund it isn’t known. As the NYT points out, the state’s tuition assistance program already distributes $1 billion in support to eligible students with individual awards capped off at $5,165. This program helps, but with four-year and two-year state schools averaging annual tuition costs of $6,470 and $4,350 respectively, it isn’t always enough for the students who benefit from its assistance — let alone qualify.
The Cuomo administration reportedly estimates that the Excelsior Scholarship would cost the state $163 million by the time its three-year rollout comes to fruition in 2019. What’s more, at least one million families with college-age children or individual adults who qualify would supposedly benefit from the free tuition program.
(Via New York Times)