January 8, 2017
By Stephanie West
New York, NY – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont at his side, on Tuesday January 3rd, unveiled phase one of his 2017 agenda: The Excelsior Scholarship program provides free college tuition for New York’s middle-class families at all SUNY and CUNY two- and four-year colleges.
Under this proposal, more than 940,000 families and individuals making up to $125,000 per year would qualify to attend college tuition-free at all public universities in New York State. The Excelsior Scholarship program will ensure that students statewide, regardless of their socio-economic status, have the opportunity to receive a quality education and gain the skills they need to succeed in our global economy.
“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,” Governor Cuomo said. “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. I am honored to have the support of Senator Sanders, who led the way on making college affordability a right, and I know that together we can make this a reality with New York leading the way once again.”
New York’s tuition-free degree program, the Excelsior Scholarship, requires participating students to be enrolled at a SUNY or CUNY two- or four-year college full-time. The initiative will cover middle-class families and individuals making up to $125,000 through a supplemental aid program. Currently 80 percent of NY households statewide make $125,000 or less with an estimated 940,000 households having college-aged children that would be eligible for the program. Based on enrollment projections, the plan will cost approximately $163 million per year once fully phased in.
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders said, “If the United States is to succeed in a highly competitive global economy, we need the best educated workforce in the world. With exploding technology, and with most of the good paying jobs requiring more and more education, we need to make certain that every New Yorker, every Vermonter and every American gets all the education they need regardless of family income. In other words, we must make public colleges and universities tuition free for the middle-class and working families of our country. That is what Governor Cuomo is fighting for here in New York and it’s something I strongly support. I urge New York legislators to pass this enormously important proposal, and become a model for the rest of the nation.”