Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a new program called the “Excelsior Scholarship” for New York state colleges beginning in the Fall of 2017. This scholarship is in hope of creating free college and more opportunities according to the state government. The scholarship itself will cover 2 and 4 year programs for middle class families and individuals that make up to $125,000 per year.
Students applying face a list of requirements, including current residence in New York and a specific amount of credits per year. This tuition-free opportunity is new for the state, which didn’t have any statewide program previously. The average cost for a 4 year degree in New York state currently is about $18,597. Several states, like Tennessee and Oregon, have programs or are beginning to create free college choices.
Emily Davis, a marketing and communications manager for the College of Arts and Sciences at American University, said free college “would be great, if it was possible.” Davis told that free college definitely would have helped her, and after graduating was when she really realized the importance of financial help when dealing with loans.
The Excelsior Scholarship will cover tuition fees, but not other expenses such as room and board, food, books, etc. This means students will still have to pay for certain things, making the scholarship not completely free. The program has received criticism from networks like CNN and The New York Times, due to that factor of all the expenses not being included or covered.
Despite any disagreements or future issues with the program, most agree that progress is progress. Earlier this year, advocate Bernie Sanders tweeted, “If New York makes public colleges and universities tuition-free, mark my words, state after state will follow.”