New York has become the first state in the United States to make two and four-year public colleges and universities tuition-free.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a budget bill that is expected to benefit nearly one million families in New York.
To qualify for free tuition, students must come from a household making $100,000 or less annually (the income threshold rises to $125,000 in 2019), maintain at least a 2.0 GPA, and be full time students.
Students must also be U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or refugees after Governor Cuomo’s provision to have undocumented students eligible for the program got dropped from the final bill.
Additionally, students must live and work in New York for the same number of years they received free tuition. If they leave the state, the scholarship will be converted to a loan that they will need to pay back to the state. "Why should New Yorkers pay for your college education and then you pick up and you move to California?…The concept of investing in you and your education is that you're going to stay here and be an asset to the state. If you don't want to stay here, then go to California now, let them pay for your college education,” Governor Cuomo said during a call with reporters.
The program will cost the state of New York about $163 million and save about one million lower and middle income families thousands of dollars each year per student. In-state tuition at CUNY (The City University of New York) for example costs $6,500 per year. Community college tuition is about $4,500 annually.