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New York State has done something pretty remarkable: Students can attend four-year state public colleges and universities for free.

According to Fortune, the Excelsior Scholarship is all part of a new $163 billion state budget that was passed on Sunday. Under this new universal public college tuition plan, students will have waived tuition if their families earn less than $120,000 a year.

New York is the first state in the U.S. to have a type of scholarship program that has no requirements other than residency and income, and no caps on the amount of residents who can receive full tuition, NBC News noted.

“With this budget, New York has the nation’s first accessible college program. It’s a different model,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo Saturday in a statement. “Today, college is what high school was—it should always be an option even if you can’t afford it.”

According to NBC, the rollout will happen in waves over the next three years starting this fall with full coverage for four-year college tuition for students whose families make less than $100,000. In addition, the income cap will increase to $110,000 in 2018 and $125,000 in 2019.

It’s believed that the Excelsior Scholarship could impact almost 80 percent of New York State’s families with college-age kids. Adults who are entering college for the first time are also eligible.

There are restrictions though: Students must be enrolled full-time with an average of at least 30 credits per year and continue to meet the minimum GPA requirement for their program.

The new budget passed also includes other key components such as not imprisoning people younger than 18 with adults.

SOURCE: Fortune; NBC News


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