Cuomo Calls For Free Tuition At New York Public Colleges

Cuomo's administration estimates about 1 million NY families could benefit from the program if approved.

The program is estimated to cost roughly $163 million annually, but the number could change depending on enrollment.

By focusing on a single state, politicians in favor of free college tuition should be able to instate higher education programs more swiftly and with less opposition.

Cuomo announced the proposal, the first of his 2017 State of the State agenda, during an appearance at LaGuardia Community College in Queens. "There are ways we could go further", he added, noting that the CUNY system already offers a program that pays for books, transportation and other needs of some of its students. "It's time this country catches up". NY spends about $10 billion a year on higher education.

"It is incredibly hard and getting harder to get a college education today", Cuomo said.

From the start of his presidential campaign in 2015, Sanders promised to make tuition free for everyone who attends state colleges. Cuomo would like the free tuition plan to begin rolling out in the fall of 2017. "He spoke to this issue of college affordability and was ahead of his time in doing it and really awoke the nation to this crisis of college affordability and we all owe him a big thank you and round of applause".

Just as the Republican congressional majority was sworn in, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a bold announcement.

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, for her part, pointed out that State Senator Toby Stavisky, a Queens Democrat and high-ranking member of the Higher Education Committee, had introduced a bill previous year to provide free tuition for New York State residents to SUNY, CUNY and community colleges-a sign, she said, of the importance of having a unified Democratic Albany. The days when a person could graduate from high school and count on a well-paying manufacturing job "are over", Sanders said.

"(Sanders) spoke for the middle class", Cuomo said. We were number one. That is not what America is supposed to be about.

"What Governor Cuomo is proposing is a revolutionary idea that is going to reverberate throughout this country", said Sanders. Trump has offered vague plans to address the cost of college - including pushing colleges to spend more of their endowments on aid for needy students - but hasn't proposed any sweeping plans to offer free college. Moreover, in 2015, the average student loan debt in NY was $29,320.

Ending his speech with a prediction, the inspirational senator was both hopeful and confident.

According to Cuomo's office, 80 percent of NY households earn $125,000 or less each year.

For undergraduate students who hail from NY, tuition for a bachelor's degree costs US$6,470 per year at the State University of New York's colleges, and US$6,330 per year at the City University of New York's four-year colleges.

  • Audrey Hill