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N.Y. Governor Seeks Free Public College Tuition

January 3, 2017

The campaign for free public college lives on in one of the country’s largest states, with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing a plan Tuesday morning to cover tuition for students at state institutions whose families earn $125,000 or less.

Cuomo’s plan would cover college students at New York’s four-year state universities and community colleges, whether part of the State University of New York or the City University of New York.

The plan is estimated to cost $163 million, according to The New York Times. New York already spends approximately $1 billion on a tuition assistance program. Cuomo’s plan is designed to build on existing state and federal loan programs. It would be put into place over three years beginning this fall.

The New York governor, a Democrat, announced the plan, to be called the Excelsior Scholarship, at LaGuardia Community College of CUNY, alongside Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders’s emphasis on college tuition during last year’s Democratic presidential primary election is credited with pushing the party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton, to include a free public college proposal in her campaign.

Sanders expressed hope that the rollout in New York is a precursor to efforts across the country.

“If New York State does it this year, mark my words,” Sanders said. “State after state will follow.”

New York lawmakers would have to approve legislation to put the program in place.

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Rick Seltzer

Rick Seltzer, Projects Editor, oversaw special projects and coordinated daily production for Inside Higher Ed from 2019 through May 2021. He joined the publication in 2016, covering finance and management. Previously, he worked as a reporter for The Baltimore Business Journal, The Bloomington Herald-Times, the Central New York Business Journal and The Harrisburg Patriot-News. He has covered numerous business, municipal, government and general assignment beats. Rick graduated from Syracuse University in 2008.

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