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One of the central policies of Bernie Sanders’ unsuccessful 2016 presidential bid was making public colleges and universities tuition-free and substantially reducing student debt. “Education should be a right, not a privilege. We need a revolution in the way that the United States funds higher education,” Sanders told a group of college students in 2015. Now, the third most populous state in the nation is working towards Sanders’ goal and he was on hand for the announcement.


In a press conference Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed his plan that would make any student from a family that makes under $125,000 a year eligible for free college tuition. The funds will be made available to state residents at any New York state or city university through the new Excelsior Scholarship. The program will be rolled out over three years, starting with students from families making less than $100,000. The income limit will increase to $110,000 in 2018, and $125,000 in 2019.

This bold plan chould begin in the fall but must first be approved by the state legislature. If approved, nearly one million families in the state will qualify for the tuition break. “If we are going to do justice to the working families of this country, to the low-income families, if we are going to have an economy that creates jobs… we must have the best educated workforce in the world,” Sanders said. “Our job is to encourage every person in this country to get all of the education he or she can, not to punish them for getting that education.”

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