ALBANY, N.Y. — New York would be the first state to make tuition at public colleges and universities free for middle-class students under a state budget poised for passage in Albany.
The plan crafted by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo would apply to any New York student whose family has an annual income of $125,000 or less. To qualify the student would have to meet certain class load and grade point average restrictions, and room and board would not be covered.
The initiative is included in a $153 billion state budget proposal that passed the state Assembly on Saturday. The state Senate planned to take up the spending plan Sunday, though it was likely a final vote wouldn’t occur until well after midnight.
The tuition plan would be phased in over three years, with families making $100,000 or less annually eligible in the fall of 2017, with the threshold rising to $125,000 in 2019. About 940,000 families in the state would meet the income criteria when the program is fully implemented.
The budget also has $19 million for a new tuition award program for students at private colleges.
Cuomo called the tuition plan a “national first” on Friday.
“It says, what we thought of high school 50 years ago, is the way you should think of college now,” he said. “Why do we have free public high school? Because we made the determination as society that you needed high school. You needed it to succeed, and you needed it as a society. Well, today, college is what high school was. … This will make college accessible, tuition free.”