The state of New York is becoming the first to offer free tuition at its public two-and four-year colleges, after certain household income requirements are met and certain conditions are fulfilled after graduation.
At first it sounds like a big win for New York residents seeking a college education, but not all will qualify and not all may like the terms to which they have to commit to get a free education.
Only students whose families earn $125,000 or less starting in 2019, are enrolled full time, and are pursuing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree for the first time will earn the Excelsior Scholarship.
But the requirements don’t end with graduation. These students will have to remain in the state of New York and employed for the same amount of time they received the award — two years for an associate’s and four years for a bachelor’s.
The penalty for failing to stay within the state: The amount of money for tuition that was awarded — about $25,880 for a bachelor’s or $8,700 for an associate’s — will be converted into a loan. Yes, they’ll have to repay that money back to the state, with interest, just like most student borrowers elsewhere.
The stay-in-New York requirement is intended to build an educated workforce that attracts more businesses to New York.
“The state with the most educated workforce is the state that is going to succeed long term, from an economic development point of view,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said this week at a press event.
At this time, about 84 percent of public college New York graduates remain in New York after graduation, according to the governor’s office.