Public colleges and universities in New York will grant free tuition to middle-class residents beginning in fall 2017; a significant step in the right direction to benefit upcoming generations.
In order to qualify for free tuition, students must be full-time and average 30 credits a year, or 15 a semester, which can include summer and winter-break classes.
Although there is no grade point average requirement set for eligibility, students need to ensure their grades are enough to pass each class and stay on track with the number of credits for graduation.
Under New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s new plan, families who make less than $100,000 per year are eligible for free tuition at state colleges, universities and two-year colleges for the fall 2017 semester.
Every year, the annual household income requirement to receive free tuition will increase. It will rise to $110,000 in fall of 2018 and to $125,000 in 2019.
Free tuition at state colleges and universities is every student’s dream. Higher education should not only be accessible to students who are fortunate enough to receive help from their family.
Cuomo is also trying to work with state colleges and universities in hopes of lowering tuition costs overall, which seems logical if they will see an influx of enrollment. Currently, tuition at New York’s state colleges and universities totals $6,470.
The plan proposed by Cuomo estimates that the plan will cost $163 million in its first year.
Cuomo proposed the plan in January, in hopes of setting an example to other states to decrease college costs.
It is estimated that when the plan is fully phased, 940,000 people would qualify for the program at New York’s 64 state colleges and universities. New York has the largest public college system in the U.S., totaling over 443,000 enrolled students, according to USA Today.
With so many students eligible to receive free college tuition, many may wonder how this is possible. However, when attending a university, there are many other expenses, such as room and board, that need to be taken into consideration.
The State University of New York said the costs on top of tuition total $20,700 a year. Also, students are responsible for paying for textbooks and providing transportation to and from school.
Free tuition could also be a plan in the near future for Connecticut students. As of April 4, Chris Murphy and Bernie Sanders backed the free tuition bill introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal the day before at a Senate meeting, according to the Stamford Advocate.
“The $1.3 trillion in student debt is a disgrace and so is the fact that the U.S. government is profiting from student debt,” Blumenthal said at the Senate meeting.
“The legislation’s sponsors, which include 14 Democrats who introduced a version in the House of Representatives, estimate that $600 billion can be raised over a decade by a 0.5 percent tax on stock trades, a 0.1 percent fee on bonds and a 0.005 [percent] fee on derivatives,” according to the Stamford Advocate.
Although it may take Connecticut a while to put free tuition into action, it would clearly be beneficial to the state and a step in the right direction to make higher education accessible to the entire population.