ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — 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 Gov. Andrew Cuomo will apply to any New York student whose family with an annual income of $125,000 or less.

“Our plan for free college tuition for families under $125K shows the different that responsible government makes,” Cuomo tweeted Sunday.

To qualify, the student will have to meet certain class-load and grade-point restrictions and room and board will not be covered. The program would be phased in over three years.

Students seem to support the plan.

“I know countries all over the world have things like this that are in place and I feel that it’s definitely something very important,” one student said. “To educate our people is to succeed. It’s a heavy burden on parents so it’s definitely something I would consider.”

Educators are praising the budget for its $1.1 billion increase in funding for state schools. Statewide spending on education would grow by 4.4 percent — well above the 2.7 percent inflation rate, WCBS 880’s John Metaxas reported. 

The increase comes despite a continued 2 percent cap on state taxpayer supported funding.

The aid is scaled to ensure fairness depending on a school district’s wealth.

The initiative is included in a $153 billion state budget proposal that passed the state Assembly on Saturday. The state Senate plans to take up the spending plan Sunday.

Cuomo has warned of the potential loss of federal money due to President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, leaving the possibility of aid reduction in the middle of the budget year.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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