Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, joined onstage by Sen. Bernie Sanders, proposed a path to free college tuition for hundreds of thousands of New York students this past Tuesday. Cuomo spoke at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City where he introduced the Excelsior Scholarship, which would help cover the cost of any two-or four-year SUNY or CUNY school for students whose families earn up to $125,000 annually. Individuals making up to $125,000 annually would also qualify.
Cuomo stated that "It is going to be the first program like it in the United States of America. It's once again New York leading the way." Under the program, eligible students are able to receive help from the state's Tuition Assistant Program and any applicable federal grants. The rest of the tuition would be covered by additional state funds. Sanders, who pushed for free higher education during his campaign for president, said this program would be a revolutionary and that state after state would follow. Cuomo said that graduating with thousands of dollars of debt is "like starting a race with an anchor tied to your leg," but higher education is a "mandatory step if you really want to be a success" because about 70% of jobs in New York require a college education.
If the program gets approval, it would be phased in over three years, beginning in the fall of 2017 for New Yorkers. If this does get approved, it would be a huge leg up for the state of New York, as well as the citizens who inhabit the city. Citizens have already taken to Twitter to discuss the possibility of this upcoming change.