The College Promise Campaign applauds Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to offer free college tuition for low and middle-income students attending all of New York’s public community colleges and state universities.
“A high school education is insufficient for success in the 21st century. The College Promise Campaign encourages every community and state to fund – at a minimum – the first two years of a community college education. Governor Cuomo’s proposal acknowledges the necessity of a two or four-year college degree for students to prosper in the global economy and in the rest of their lives,” said Dr. Martha Kanter, the Campaign’s Executive Director.
The “Excelsior Scholarship” would be available to college students with family incomes of less than $125,000 once they have been accepted to any CUNY or SUNY campus. If approved by the New York Legislature, students would begin using the scholarships this fall.
“College is a mandatory step if you really want to be a success,” Gov. Cuomo told the audience of students, staff, trustees, and legislators gathered at LaGuardia Community College in Queens. “This society should say we’re going to pay for college because you need college to be successful. Other countries have already done it. It’s time this country catches up.”
“Governor Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship Program takes college affordability to a dramatic new level,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, a member of the College Promise National Advisory Board. “Governor Cuomo’s plan will ensure true success for our students while also protecting the state’s investment in public higher education. SUNY strongly supports the Excelsior Scholarship Program and we will be making it a top priority in the upcoming budget session.”
LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow, another member of the College Promise National Advisory Board, said: “This is a game-changer. It’s ground-breaking. It’s nationally important. And we’re so glad he did this here at LaGuardia Community College.”
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a strong critic of student debt and a passionate advocate for free college tuition, stood by Cuomo’s side during the announcement and praised the plan. “We must have the best-educated workforce in the world,” Sanders said. “Our job is to encourage every person in this country to get all of the education he or she can.” not to punish them for getting that education.
Nearly a million families in the state would qualify for the scholarship, which would be rolled out over three years before being fully implemented in 2019. According to the New York Times, which first reported the plan, initial cost estimates of the Excelsior Scholarship are anticipated at $163 million a year when fully funded. Today’s annual tuition for New York residents at the State Universities of New York is $6,470. Community college tuition is $4,350 per student.
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