Included in the $153 billion budget deal is free tuition for state and city colleges.
A week after the New York state budget deadline, there is a deal, and included in the $153 billion budget deal is free tuition for state and city colleges.
If this passes, New York state will be the first in the nation to offer free college tuition to middle-class students.
Free SUNY and CUNY college tuition has been hotly debated over the last few months in Albany. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says college is what high school was and it should always be an option even if you can't afford it. “Every child will have the opportunity that education provides,” Cuomo said.
The governor says at least 80 percent of New York state's families will benefit from the “Excelsior Scholarship” — a plan for free tuition at state colleges that will be open to families making up to 125,000 dollars a year.
Students attending the SUNY assembly spring conference Saturday said they are looking forward to making this plan a reality.
“It's an outstanding thought that these students have something to look forward to. That they don't any longer have to worry about the financial barrier to achieving a higher education,” said Mark Cohen, president of SUNY Assembly and a SUNY Board Trustee.
The projected cost would be $163 million and Cuomo said the funding would come out of the education budget.
Republicans, though, still want more detail on how it will be paid for. “Certainly that's what we're evaluating. Obviously what's going to be the cost to the taxpayers?” Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua said. Kolb said this has always been his sticking point since the governor made his proposal.
“Nothing should be free. We can increase tuition assistance program. We can make graduate students eligible. We can change the income eligibility requirements,” said Kolb. But having something absolutely free Kolb said is something a lot of taxpayers he’s heard from say is not acceptable.
The vice president for SUNY student assembly said the assembly supports anything that expands access to affordable college education. Although a tuition free college will take away a huge chunk from students' financial burdens, there are still other issues left to deal with.
“They struggle with associated fees, textbooks, room and board. It's really unfortunate that the conversation is so put on tuition just because there are so many other aspects of college life that make it not affordable for students,” said Bridget Doyle, vice president for SUNY Student Assembly.
In order to cover the "prohibitive cost of textbooks", the governor's office said the budget will also have $8 million for open educational resources, which include e-books provided to CUNY and SUNY students.