New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced a plan that could provide a free college education for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. Under the so-called Excelsior Scholarship plan, tuition at all two- and four-year college of the State University of New York System and the City University of New York System would be paid by the state for all full-time students from families whose income are below $125,000. Currently, the average tuition at a four-year SUNY System college or university is $6,470
In announcing the proposal, Governor Cuomo said that “a college education is not a luxury – it is an absolute necessity for any chance at economic mobility, and with these first-in-the-nation Excelsior Scholarships, we’re providing the opportunity for New Yorkers to succeed, no matter what zip code they come from and without the anchor of student debt weighing them down.”
The Governor added that “New York is making a major investment in our greatest asset – our people – and supporting the dreams and ambitions of those who want a better life and are willing to work hard for it.”
The state notes that 80 percent of all households in the state have income below the $125,000 annual income threshold. Government officials estimate that there are 940,000 households in the state with college-age children that could benefit from the plan.
The plan calls for the scholarships to be phased in over a three-period. In 2017, the scholarships would be available to students from families with incomes below $100,000. For 2018, the threshold would go up to $110,000 and then would rise again in 2019 to $125,000. When fully implemented, the state estimates that the program would cost $163 million annually.