Central New York, Education, Government

SUNY ESF Students React to Potential Free Tuition

By Matt Reil SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Uber coming to New York State isn’t the only thing from the 2018 state budget that is getting college students excited. Another thing that some students are enthusiastic about: free tuition.

The new Excelsior Scholarship program included in the 2018 budget, will help make all 2-year and 4-year state SUNY and CUNY schools more affordable. Under the new program, any student whose family makes  $125,000 dollars or less a year will qualify for free tuition.

The program will be phased in beginning in the fall of 2017 for families making up to $100,000 dollars and than increasing for the next two years after. In 2018, students whose family make $110,000 or less will qualify and then in 2019 that number reachers $125,000.

SUNY ESF in Syracuse is just one of the state schools where students will be eligible beginning in the fall.

“It provides a lot of hope for families that wouldn’t be able to afford college, to give the opportunity to everyone in New York State to get the high quality education that SUNY provides,” said SUNY ESF graduate student Mark Patroni.

There are a number of other requirements that students need to meet to qualify for the Excelsior program. They must:

  • Be a full-time undergraduate student at a state college.
  • Maintain the GPA necessary to stay in school and finish on track to graduate on time.
  • Take 30 credits a year, including summer classes.
  • Live and work in New York State after graduating for as many years as they received the free tuition or pay the money back.

“It’s an investment that you are putting into students,” said ESF freshman Gabriella Wemple. “They expect something in return and I don’t think that’s that much to ask for the state.”

The program doesn’t mean school is completely free for students. They still have to pay for room, board and other independent expenses like books.

Over 900,000 students across the state will be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.