N.Y. Becomes First State to Make Tuition Free for Middle Class

NEW YORK - MAY 18:  Students cheer during commencment ceremonies at Columbia University May 18, 2005 in New York City. This is the 251st class to graduate from Columbia.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

New York has become the first state in the country to make tuition free at public colleges for middle class students. State lawmakers agreed to include the measure introduced by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo in the state budget, which was approved by them over the weekend. Tuition will be free at State University of New York and City University of New York schools for residents who earn up to a certain income. Starting this fall, the family income cap will be $100,000 a year. It will increase to $110,000 next year, and then reach $125,000 in 2019. Although eligible students won't pay tuition, which is currently $6,470 at four-year schools and about $4,350 a year at community colleges, they will still have to pay room and board if they live on campus, and any fees. Students also will be required to take at least 30 credits a year, which excludes part-time students. After graduation, students who receive an Excelsior Scholarship will be required to live and work in New York for the same number of years they received funding. If they leave the state before then, the scholarship will be turned into a loan. Students who already get need-based federal or state grants -- which is nearly half of full-time state school students and more than 60 percent of CUNY students -- won't be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship. 

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