SUNY student leaders applaud Excelsior tuition scholarship

But say more still needs to be done

Tim Wenger
April 10, 2017 - 6:13 pm

WBEN Photo - Tim Wenger


Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - The Excelsior Scholarship program included in the just-passed New York State budget is music to the ears of student leadership within the 600,000 strong SUNY and CUNY university system.  The munch-heralded, and sometimes controversial, program would provide tuition for students in New York living in households with an income level up to $125,000.

"This is going to give western New York families access to affordable education:, says Neal McCallum, Student Government Association President at SUNY ECC in Buffalo. McCallum says the Excelsior program will allow students "to be able to leave school without debt and if this is something that this is going to do, I'm all behind it".  McCallum is also the student trustee on the SUNY ECC Board of Trustees.

Marc Cohen heads the SUNY Student Assembly statewide and says. "we're proud to lead the nation in this realm", referencing the fact New York State is the first to offer a free tutition program for qualified students.  Cohen says this is just the beginning and says more funding is needed to help make SUNY and CUNY a reality for more New York residents.

"We need funding for child care, room and board", says Cohen.  "There are additional costs to college beyond just tuition that we’ll continue to advocate for", says Cohen.

Cohen says millennial voting is on the rise and says "if lawmakers don't listen to their words, they'll listen to our votes".  There are in excess of 600,000 SUNY students across New York State, many of whom vote.

Students who receive free tuition and then leave the state for an advanced degree won't have to pay the money back assuming they return to New York once they complete their graduate studies. State officials also plan to make accommodations for graduates who leave the state for military service.

As part of the budget, lawmakers also approved a new tuition assistance program for students at private colleges and universities that offers up to $3,000 in tuition grants. That assistance also comes with a requirement that a student remain in New York after graduation for the same number of years they received the benefit.

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