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Published On: Wed, Jan 4th, 2017

Governor Cuomo Proposes Free Tuition to New Yorkers Making Up to $125,000 Per Year

nsnbc : Governor Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled his first signature proposal of his 2017 agenda, making college tuition-free for New York’s middle class families at all SUNY and CUNY two-and-four-year colleges.

cuomo-and-sanders_new-york_usaCuomo made his announcement accompanied by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders at LaGuardia Community College. The First-in-the-Nation-Program aims at providing free tuition to New Yorkers making up to  $125,000 Per Year at all SUNY and CUNY Two- and Four-Year Colleges.

New York’s tuition-free college degree program, the Excelsior Scholarship, is the first of its kind in the nation and will help alleviate the burden of student debt while enabling thousands of students who otherwise would be unable to realize their aspirations. The first-in-the-nation plan would be phased in over three years, beginning for New Yorkers making up to $100,000 annually in the fall of 2017, increasing to $110,000 in 2018, and reaching $125,000 in 2019.

Cuomo stressed that 75 years ago, when the economy still was manufacturing-based, one could work at a factory and be O.K. He added, what high school was 75 years ago, college is now. He added that higher education is a necessity to succeed in today’s global economy. The new Excelsior Scholarships Program aims at encouraging more students to graduate on time, helping to improve graduation rates at New York Public Colleges.

Under this proposal, more than 940,000 middle-class families and individuals making up to $125,000 per year would qualify to attend college tuition-free at all public universities in New York State. Let’s make college a reality, not a dream for New York’s middle class, said Cuomo. The governor said:

“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. … New York is making a major investment in our greatest asset – our people – and supporting the dreams and ambitions of those who want a better life and are willing to work hard for it. I am honored to have the support of Senator Sanders, who led the way on making college affordability a right, and I know that together we can make this a reality with New York leading the way once again.”

On his website, Governor Cuomo notes that a college degree is necessary for increased earning power. Studies show a person with a bachelor’s degree, on average, will earn about 66 percent more over his or her lifetime than a person without a college degree. Those with an associate’s degree can expect to earn 24 percent more than a person with a high school diploma. Moreover, a college education is increasingly becoming a necessity, not a luxury. According to projections by the New York State Department of Labor, approximately 3.5 million jobs statewide will require an associate’s degree or higher by 2024. As the landscape of the global economy continues to shift, investing in a highly-qualified, highly-educated workforce has never been more important.

It is noteworthy that university education is free in Germany, the most productive European economy. Higher education was also free of charge in Libya until the country was “liberated” in 2011.

A/N & CH/L – nsnbc 04.01.2017

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