With Bernie Sanders at His Side, Governor Cuomo Proposes Free Tuition at State Schools for Certain Students

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Borrowing a little of the Bern for 2020? Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP Photo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, fresh off the fanfare of the Second Avenue subway opening, made another splashy announcement Tuesday, this one about education. Cuomo proposed giving free state- or city-college tuition for accepted students whose families make less than $125,000 per year. The governor outlined his plan at La Guardia Community College in Queens, where he was joined by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the very person who made this a campaign issue in 2016. He got a chance to try out the old stump speech again, and, spoiler, he’s still got it:

Cuomo is calling for a 2019 start date for these Excelsior Scholarships, which will apply to four- and two-year schools under the CUNY or SUNY banner and could benefit hundreds of thousands of students in the nation’s largest public-university system. The governor’s administration estimated the program to cost about $163 million — though that’s a very, very rough estimate and will vary depending on how many students take advantage of the potential scholarships. Besides the question over cost, this plan isn’t exactly a done deal, as implementing free tuition will require a vote in Albany, which could be a tough sell among Republican lawmakers who control the State Senate.

According to the Albany Times Union, Governor Cuomo is trying to spice up the State of the State Address in 2017, delivering six separate policy speeches across New York — with just one near Albany — instead of one big presentation in front of the Legislature. (Things didn’t go over so well last year.) This free-tuition plan is reportedly the first preview in what we’ll call the State of the State series, one that the governor probably hopes still sounds good when 2020 rolls around.

With Sanders, Cuomo Proposes Free-Tuition Plan at SUNYs