What to Know About New York's Plan to Offer Free College

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.

Then, in January, Cuomo paired up with Vermont's Sen.

The new program will be phased in over three years, beginning for New Yorkers making up to $100,000 annually in the fall of 2017, increasing to $110,000 in 2018, and reaching $125,000 in 2019. It also only considers family income, but not how many children a family has.

"We have the nation's first accessible public college program, which is a national first", the governor said. Having more educated workers will attract businesses to NY, he says.

UB's current tuition is $6,770 for New York State residents and $23,270 for out-of-state residents.

Tamara Draut, vice president of policy and research at Demos, a progressive-leaning think tank, praised the bill in a statement, but with a caveat: "The bill is what's known as a "last-dollar" program".

"I believe other states are going to follow this because it makes sense", Cuomo said Tuesday during a meeting with reporters and editors of The Buffalo News. These students would not be eligible for the newly-passed scholarship.

During the 2016 election, free college tuition was a huge issue. That was true, for example, when California raised its minimum wage to $15 just hours before NY in 2016.

Though students will not have to pay for tuition, they will have to pay for their room and board if they choose to live on campus.

The governor signed the legislation at LaGuardia Community College on Wednesday.

No. Those who have already graduated from a SUNY or CUNY school won't get any help from the Excelsior Scholarship.

You must attend full time and finish on time. They have to reside and work in the state for the number of years that they enjoyed the benefits of the Excelsior program. So four-year schools may see more impact starting in 2018. They will impose the price hike to students whose parents earn more than the stated tuition threshold. There are hardship provisions in the new program for students who must pause their participation.

You must stay in the state.

If a student receives a need-based federal Pell Grant or a New York Tuition Assistance grant, they must use those first to pay for tuition.

Hanna Kim, an global student from South Korea and a sophomore business administration major, thinks the program will be helpful for lower income families but not for other students.

In another tweet, she noted that "Free college is about moving beyond a complex, untrustworthy aid system".

  • Larry Hoffman