New York Becomes First State to Offer Free 4-Year College Tuition

The high cost of college tuition can plague a graduate years after they’ve received their degree, thanks to student loans. Little by little, states across the country are doing something to make high education more affordable.

In a pretty monumental feat, New York is the first state to offer universal public college tuition coverage for working and middle class residents. This was included in the budget package which was approved Sunday night.

This is part of New York’s Excelsior Scholarship Program. Over the next three years, it will be rolled out in three tiers, and will begin with full coverage of college tuition this fall for students whose families make less than $100, 000. In 2018, the income cap will increase to $100, 000 and in 2019 it will be $125, 000.

The state of New York now has the only universal program with the only requirements being residency, income. There are no caps on the amount of residents who can receive full tuition.

In a statement on Saturday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said of the Excelsior Scholarship Program, “With this budget, New York has the nation’s first accessible college program. It’s a different model. “Today, college is what high school was—it should always be an option even if you can’t afford it.”

It’s estimated 80 percent of New York State’s families with college-age kids could benefit from the program.

Students will be able to see if they are eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship Program this spring when it is included in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The program has no age limit and once students receive the scholarship, they must be enrolled in college full-time, average at least 30 credits per year and meet the GPA requirement for their program.