New York Governor Announces ‘Tuition-free Public College’ Initiative


On Tuesday, January 3, 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an initiative aimed at allowing middle class New York students to attend any SUNY or CUNY college tuition-free. The details of the Excelsior Scholarship plan are as follows:

Family Income Eligibility: 2017: $100,000; 2018: $110,000; 2019: $125,000
Student Eligibility: Must be a resident of New York State
Student Attendance: Must attend a SUNY or CUNY institution full-time

Student funding under the program would be calculated as follows: Tuition – (Tuition Assistance Program funding + Federal Grants). Any excess of tuition would be covered by the Excelsior Scholarship.

In announcing the initiative, Governor Cuomo declared, “A college education is not a luxury – it is an absolute necessity for any chance at economic mobility, and with these first-in-the-nation Excelsior Scholarships, we’re providing the opportunity for New Yorkers to succeed, no matter what zip code they come from and without the anchor of student debt weighing them down.”

The latest employment and earnings data reveal that full-time workers with a college degree enjoy higher earnings and lower unemployment rates than those without a degree. The below chart was published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:


2 thoughts on “New York Governor Announces ‘Tuition-free Public College’ Initiative

  1. Don Sutherland Post author

    A recent Journal of Continuing Higher Education article concerning reasons students fail to complete college noted that approximately a quarter of students who stop attending cite financial reasons as the “main factor preventing them from completing college.” Once the proposal is implemented, it will be interesting to examine changes in college admissions, enrollment, retention and graduation rates at the SUNY and CUNY institutions that would be directly impacted by the Governor’s proposal.

  2. Tony Webster

    I was excited when I heard this announcement as well. I thought college tuition was expensive when I attended, but now that my son is in college, I can’t believe the staggering prices. He’s currently at a SUNY school, so this is prefect timing for us.

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