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New York Proposes Country's First Free College Plan

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What began as a long-shot campaign pledge during the Democratic presidential primaries may finally be seeing the light of day in New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, announced that state colleges may become free.

The idea, proposed Jan. 3, is called the Excelsior Scholarship, notes The New York Times. Cuomo announced the proposal alongside Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who campaigned during the Democratic primaries with a similar idea.

“If you come from any family making $125,000 or less, the state will provide free tuition," Cuomo said during the proposal’s announcement at LaGuardia College in Queens, New York, notes WGRZ. "It is going to be the first program like it in the United States of America. It’s once again New York leading the way.”

According to The Hill, the program, which still needs legislative approval, is expected to cost the state $163 million a year when fully implemented in 2019.

"The day will come where we understand that public education in America is not simply kindergarten through high school, but that public education in 2017 means making public colleges and public universities tuition-free," Sanders added.

The Excelsior Scholarship will cover both two- and four-year colleges, but room and board will not be free, adds WGRZ.

This program will be a "model for the rest of the nation," Sanders said in a statement. "With an exploding technology, and with most of the good-paying jobs requiring more and more education, we need to make certain that every New Yorker, every Vermonter and every American gets all the education they need regardless of family income ... In other words, we must make public colleges and universities tuition-free for the middle class and working families of our country."

Sources: The New York Times, WGRZ, The Hill / Photo credit: Pat Arnow/Wikimedia Commons

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