Governor Andrew Cuomo has unveiled the first signature proposal of his 2017 agenda -- making college tuition free for New York's middle class families at all SUNY and CUNY schools.

Cuomo was joined by Senator Bernie Sanders today for the announcement at LaGuardia Community College.  Sanders had pushed for free college tuition at all U.S public colleges during his presidential campaign

Under the Excelsior Scholarship Program, middle-class families and individuals making up to $125,000 a year would qualify to attend college tuition-free at all public universities in New York State.

Cuomo says the first of its kind program in the nation would help alleviate the burden of student debt while enabling thousands of students to realize their dream of higher education.

"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," Cuomo said.

The new initiative would be phased in over three years, beginning for New Yorkers making up to $100,000 annually in the fall 2017.


Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi of Utica today reacted to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to provide free tuition at state colleges  The following is his statement:

“On the surface, I applaud the Governor’s intent to make college more affordable, because many working families suffer under the burden of student loans.  However, I do question how it can be paid for at a time when the state faces some financial uncertainties.  I find it somewhat hypocritical the Governor is embracing college affordability, when over the past five years, he has cut funding for programs that help students pay for college, while at the same time not providing adequate funding for K through 12 schools and our community colleges.  We must make sure our public schools and community colleges adequately prepare our students for the 21st Century workplace.  I want to continue fighting to make sure class sizes are reasonable and students have the resources they need to excel, and that will be my top priority for education in the coming legislative session.”

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