New York to make state college tuition free for middle class
Governor's plan will apply to any student in the state with a family income of $125K or less
NY makes tuition free, but students must stay after college
(AP) There's a big string attached to New York's free middle-class college tuition initiative: Students must stay in the state after graduation or else pay back the benefit.
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that the requirement was added to protect the state's investment in a student's education by ensuring they don't take advantage of free tuition and then leave New York.
The tuition initiative, which Cuomo says is a national model, covers state college or university tuition for in-state students from families earning $125,000 or less.
Students must remain in New York for as many years as they received the benefit. If they take a job in another state they must pay the money back as a loan.
Republican lawmakers pushed for the requirement during closed-door state budget negotiations.
By ANNA GRONEWOLD and DAVID KLEPPER
New York will be the first state to make tuition at public colleges and universities free for middle-class students under a state budget approved by lawmakers Sunday.
The plan crafted by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo will apply to any New York student whose family has an annual income of $125,000 or less. To qualify the student would have to meet certain class load and grade point average restrictions, and room and board would not be covered.
“College is today what high school was 50 years ago," Cuomo said on a radio interview Sunday on a.m. 970 in New York City. “If you're a young person who wants success and a career, a college education is necessary.
The initiative is included in a $153 billion state budget proposal that passed the state Senate late Sunday after being endorsed by the Assembly a day earlier. The budget was due by April 1, but difficult negotiations delayed passage.
The tuition plan will be phased in over three years, with families making $100,000 or less annually eligible in the fall of 2017, with the threshold rising to $125,000 in 2019. Cuomo's office says some 940,000 families will qualify. The initiative also includes $19 million for a new tuition award program for students at private colleges.
The governor's office estimates that the program will cost the state $163 million.
The budget approved Sunday also includes provisions allowing the ride-hailing apps Uber and Lyft to expand upstate and a juvenile justice reform known as 'raise the age' that would raise the age of adult criminal responsibility from 16 to 18.
Additionally, the spending plan increases funding for schools by $1.1 billion, holds the line on taxes, sets aside $200 million to fight heroin and opioid addiction and invests $2.5 billion for water quality and upgrades to the state's aging water and sewer systems.
Tighter campaign finance laws, term limits for lawmakers and new rules restricting outside income were left out of the budget again this year. Following widespread complaints from last year's elections, Cuomo proposed changes, including early voting and automatic registration, but those weren't included in the final agreement either.
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