New York Governor Calls for Free Tuition at Public Colleges

ALBANY, NY - JANUARY 08: New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo gives fourth State of the State address on January 8, 2014 in Albany, New York. Among other issues touched on at the afternoon speech in the state's capital was the legalization of medical marijuana, and New York's continued economic recovery. Cuomo has been discussed as a possible Democratic candidate for the 2016 presidential race. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a plan on Tuesday that would allow thousands of New York students whose parents make less than 125k per year to attend college for free.

The Democrat unveiled his plan Tuesday at LaGuardia Community College in Queens alongside U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders, who pushed for free tuition at all U.S. public colleges during his Democratic presidential campaign, called Cuomo’s proposal “revolutionary,” ABC News reports.

Cuomo said that the program would apply to full-time students who enroll at State and City universities, and would also apply to community colleges. Additionally, Sanders predicted “If New York state does it this year, mark my words, state after state will follow.”

“It should be a wake-up call to this nation,” Cuomo said, “to say if you really want to be competitive globally, we have to have the best educated workforce, and that means we have to have college for every child, man or woman who wants to attend.”

Cuomo’s plan could effect an estimated 940,000 households, and (starting this fall) would be implemented over the course of three years. Cuomo’s office estimated that the plan would cost about $163 million annually, and would cover whatever tuition still exists after the application of state and federal aid.

SUNY/CUNY tuition averages $6,500 per year for a bachelor’s degree and $4,350-$4,880 for an associate’s degree. On top of that, New York’s public universities are the nation’s largest system, with over 440,000 students registered on 64 statewide campuses.