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NY makes tuition free, but students must stay after college

NY makes tuition free, but students must stay after college

The $153 billion state budget agreement includes the Excelsior Scholarship, which covers tuition for any New Yorker accepted to one of the state's community colleges or four-year universities, provided their family earns less than $125,000 a year.

Though the legislation eliminates tuition costs for many lower- and middle-income families, for students who exceed the income cap, tuition will increase $200 per year for the next five years at all state schools.

"By making college at our world-class public universities tuition-free, we have established a national model for access to higher education, and achieved another NY first", Cuomo said in a prepared statement.

Students would have to meet certain class load and grade point average requirements to qualify. Recipients must also stay in-state after college for the same number of years that they got free tuition, otherwise, their scholarship will be converted into loans.

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Cuomo said Sunday that the tuition plan, which his office has estimated to cost $163 million, is a national first.

When the bill is signed, NY will become the first state to make tuition free at four-year colleges.

In-state tuition at community colleges in NY pencils in at $4,350, while tuition at State University of NY schools is $6,470 for residents. This doesn't include students who already have Pell Grants or New York Tuition Assistance grants.

Gov. Cuomo first introduced the Excelsior Scholarship in January in a speech at LaGuardia Community College. "The result is a Budget that advances the core progressive principles that built NY: investing in the middle class, strengthening the economy and creating opportunity for all".

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In order for students to be eligible for this tuition break, their family income would need to be less than $125,000 a year. As a effect, it's likely that for families making higher than $125,000, tuition costs will go up. Lawmakers in Rhode Island are considering a similar proposal to make two years of public colleges tuition-free.

NY residents facing deportation can receive legal representation bolstered by a new $10 million fund that would ensure public defense for immigrants regardless of their legal status. Private schools that participate in the new financial assistance program for private schools would have to match that funding and promise not to raise the student's tuition during their enrollment.

In addition to approving the Excelsior Scholarship program, the legislature also agreed to provide $8 million for open educational resources, such as e-books.

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