WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- College students in New York State may not have to worry about school loans for much longer.
The Excelsior Scholarship, passed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, will provide tuition-free education to middle-class, New York residents coming from families making up to $100,000 and attending a four or two-year state college. Students attending schools such as Westchester Community College and members of the SUNY or CUNY network will be eligible for the scholarship as early as this fall.
"Looking for affordable options and an affordable pay plan is really key," said Belinda S. Miles, president of Westchester Community College. "The Excelsior Scholarship gives families a great option to create more opportunity and a pathway into better careers and more educational opportunities."
While many students in New York will be eligible for the scholarship, there are some exceptions. Students must be enrolled full-time and maintain an acceptable grade point average. Additionally, students will be required to work and live in New York for two to four years after graduation.
"One of the nice qualities of the Excelsior Scholarship is that it incentivizes people who are attending school part-time, to go full-time," said Miles. "There is a 30 credit per year requirement in terms of a progress toward a degree."
The program will be phased in over three years, beginning in fall 2017. It would first apply to families who earn $100,000 or less, then to those who earn $110,000 or less in 2018 and eventually reaching $125,000 or less in 2019.
While full-time students will still need to budget the cost of other expenses including room and board and textbooks, students under the $100,000 threshold may ultimately save thousands of dollars annually.
"We do still need support, there is still so much need that is unmet but this is a step in the right direction," said Miles.
For more information about the Excelsior Scholarship or Westchester Community College, click here.