ALBANY – Both the State Assembly and State Senate’s one-house budgets have recommended changes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $163 million proposal to offer free tuition at public colleges in New York to some middle-class students.
Cuomo’s plan – known as the Excelsior Scholarship Program – would have the state pay the tuition at public colleges and universities for students who have a combined family income of up to $125,000 a year when the plan is fully phased in in two years. It also includes incentives to ensure that more students graduate on time, including requiring that students complete the full-time requirement of 30 credits per year. It does not cover room and board, books and mandatory fees.
Senate Republicans, in their one-house budget resolution, alter the governor’s plan by not offering free tuition to public colleges, but instead taking the suggestion of the private colleges and enlarging the existing TAP program. The GOP plan would increase the maximum aid award to $5,500 a year, and increase income eligibility to $125,000 a year. The Senate plan would add new credit requirements to TAP to encourage graduation in four years.
Assembly Democrats, in their budget plan, adopt much of the governor’s proposal. Speaker Carl Heastie said the proposal would increase the income eligibility to families making $150,000 a year.
With the two one-house budget resolutions in place, the governor, along with the leaders of the assembly and the senate, will now work to negotiate and come to an agreement on the final state budget in the process that has been dubbed “Three-Men-in-a-Room.” The budget deadline is April 1.