Featured News - Current News - Archived News - News Categories

Excelsior Scholarship offers free tuition in NYS

by Kiara Alfonseca - EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

First of its kind in the nation

Tue, Apr 11th 2017 09:05 pm
Photo courtesy of governorandrewcuomo on Flickr
ASSISTANCE - The Excelsior Scholarship will provide free tuition for applicants making less than $125,00 annually.
Photo courtesy of governorandrewcuomo on Flickr ASSISTANCE - The Excelsior Scholarship will provide free tuition for applicants making less than $125,00 annually.
No Prior Images
Viewing 1 of 2
View Next Image

 The Excelsior Scholarship offers free tuition for State University of New York and City University of New York students whose families make up to $100,000 annually, until 2019 when families making $125,000 will be included; it's officially been marked down in Governor Andrew Cuomo's budget agreement as of April 8. This is the first tuition plan of its kind nationally.

While this scholarship, dedicated to a public, state education, begins in Fall 2017, where the money for this plan is coming from is no longer uncertain. Following a rumored proposal for funding, the Excelsior Scholarship said the universities and colleges of the SUNY system could have been forced to give 10 percent of unrestricted donations to schools toward the governor's scholarship; college presidents quickly gathered to fight it. 

Unrestricted donations, according to David Mihalyov, are donations to the college that are not dedicated to specific aspects of the college. If a donation is given specifically for a certain scholarship or a department at the college, it is a restricted donation and cannot be included in the proposed donation tax.

SUNY leaders, including The College at Brockport President Heidi Macpherson, came together to send letters to local politicians and legislators to express their frustrations. Neither Macpherson, nor other SUNY presidents, were aware of such proposals until April 2. Administrations across the system were blindsided, but the tax is no longer a part of the official proposal.

Although cities, like San Francisco, California, have supported free tuition for community colleges and two-year education programs, New York is the first to offer this advanced of a free tuition plan, something Cuomo prides himself on.

"Governor Cuomo is taking the lead on alleviating the burden of student debt," the ny.gov website states. "New York's tuition-free degree program, the Excelsior Scholarship, is the first-of-its-kind in the nation and will enable thousands of bright, young students to realize their dream of higher education."

According to the governor's office, approximately 80 percent of New York families will qualify for the scholarship, almost a million families total. The cap from the tuition assistance program has also been lifted, allowing for better aid support.

Although the scholarship requires graduates to remain in the State of New York for a pre-determined period of time following graduation, and also only covers undergraduate students, the overall response from SUNY administration is positive. Also, it should be noted that for students, the majority of their bills come from room and board, or housing, be it on campus or off. At Brockport, the scholarship will cover the approximately $6,000 of tuition, but not the approximately $12,000 in room and board.

SUNY Chairman H. Carl McCall and Chancellor Nancy Zimpher released a statement in support of Cuomo's Excelsior Scholarship, as it will allow for many low-income and middle class students to get a better chance at higher education. 

@kiaraalfonseca

stylus@brockport.edu

Photo of the Week