Nicole EdenedoApr 11, 2017, 8:32 amApr 11, 2017, 4:16 pm

College tuition to become free for middle class students who attend NY public universities

Excelsior program does have some requirements for those applying

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College tuition will become free for middle-class students attending two and four-year public universities in New York starting this fall.

Under the new ‘Excelsior’ program, families who make up to $125,000 annually can send their students to state schools for free.

"I think it's great. I think every state should offer that, especially state schools. It should set a precedent for the rest of the country," said David Perez, a graduating senior at SUNY Purchase.

The money does come with a catch, though. Eligible students will still have to pay for books, fees and room and board, if living on campus, all of which can cost nearly $14,000.

"The loans, I had to basically live off the loans at times,” explained Perez of his finances. “I still worked part time but I still had to take out a few loans just to live!"

Students must be enrolled full-time with at least 30 credits per year, maintain a set grade point average and complete their degrees on time.

Students must also live and work in New York State after receiving a degree for the same amount of time the scholarship was awarded.

"I honestly don't understand the reason behind it,” remarked Hugo Sandoval, a junior at SUNY Purchase. “For people that already live in New York and they don't really plan on moving after, that's great for them. But for those that are coming from another state, it might be hard for them because they still need to pay tuition."

The new program is expected to boost enrollment, with at least 940,000 students becoming eligible once the program fully rolls out.

The scholarship does not have an age limit, so anyone who can meet the requirements is free to apply.

New York’s free college tuition program was included in the next year's state's budget and the governor is expected to sign the bill this week.
Even though there are rules and eligibility requirements to receive the Excelsior Scholarship, it's still a big opportunity for working and middle class families.

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