New York Makes History as First State to Offer Free College Tuition

In the wise words of Alicia Keys, let’s hear it for New York!

On Saturday, New York state approved a bill that will allow middle class students free tuition at both two-year and four-year public colleges.

What does New York state consider middle class? If your parents make less than $100,000 a year, you currently qualify for free tuition under the Excelsior Scholarship—the income cap will rise each year, slated to hit $125k by 2019.

This is a major step forward for public education, but, of course, there’s a slight catch. Although tuition is waived, other collegiate fees (including room and board) are not. Additionally, part-time students are not eligible for the scholarship—a 30-credit yearly minimum is required.

Similarly, students taking part in the no-tuition plan must stay in New York state after receiving their degree—at least for as many years as they received funding. If this clause is ignored, the scholarship will turn into a loan.

O.K., so it’s not exactly a full-ride, but this is a shift in the right direction. In a recent statement, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “Today, college is what high school was—it should always be an option even if you can’t afford it,” and it’s hard to disagree.

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Congratulations to everyone who’ll benefit from the new bill.