New York Free College Goes to 22,000 and Counting

About 22,000 students are now attending a State University of New York or City University of New York campus without paying tuition because they are receiving the new Excelsior Scholarship, the state announced this weekend.

More than 6,000 applications are still being processed, so the number of students receiving scholarships is expected to rise. But the state released early figures on the new scholarship at the start of October, several months after lawmakers captured attention and sparked swift applications by passing the free public college program at the urging of Governor Andrew Cuomo this spring.

The new program pushed the portion of full-time undergraduate in-state SUNY and CUNY students who do not pay tuition to 53 percent, up from 48 percent last year. Many of the roughly 400,000 full-time in-state students at New York’s public colleges already did not pay tuition because of the state's Tuition Assistance Program, Pell Grants and other scholarships. The Excelsior Scholarship functions as a "last-dollar" scholarship, meaning it covers remaining tuition after other forms of aid have been taken into account.

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