New York is set to become the first state in the country to provide free tuition at public colleges and universities for middle-class students after Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial budget was approved. The plan will cost taxpayers an estimated $163 million per year.
The tuition initiative comprises one of the boldest parts of Cuomo’s new budget, which was approved by the state Senate on Palm Sunday after getting the rubber stamp from the Assembly the day before. In all, Cuomo’s budget weighs in at a whopping $153 billion.
New York residents who come from families that earn $125,000 annually or less will be entitled to free tuition at public colleges and universities throughout the state. Families will still be expected to shell out for room and board.
Furthermore, students who are granted free tuition will be subject to educational requirements to remain eligible for the subsidy, including taking a certain number of classes and keeping their grade-point averages above a certain level.
While many Democrats complained about a tax credit geared at real estate developers who build affordable housing, they have touted the free tuition initiative as a key point of success for their progressive agenda. Republicans aren’t so sure about it.
“People should work for what they want,” one commenter wrote on Twitter. “A governor that gives things away should be investigated. Sounds like a Clinton and Obama scheme.”
“Why don’t you give them all a new car also and a membership at the country club,” another person suggested.
Other notable inclusions in Cuomo’s budget are provisions that will give ride-sharing apps Uber and Lyft a green light to expand throughout the state and that raise the age of adult criminal responsibility from 16 to 18.