Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo only briefly mentioned higher education in Tuesday's budget talk, a year after he enlisted U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders to help announce a free college tuition plan that garnered national attention and became a centerpiece of budget talks in 2017.
Cuomo said he will continue to fund “phase two” of the Excelsior Scholarship program, which covers tuition at the state’s public colleges and universities for middle-class residents attending full time and maintaining a minimum grade-point average.
The family income eligibility threshold is $100,000 for the current academic year, in which more than 22,000 students qualified at a cost of $87 million. The threshold will increase to $110,000 in the second phase, which is expected to cost $118 million in Cuomo’s proposed budget and provide 27,000 students with free tuition for 2018-19. The threshold is scheduled to go up to $125,000 for 2019-20.
In all, the proposed budget would increase funding for higher education by $103 million to nearly $7.5 billion. While Cuomo limited his remarks on higher education to the second phase of the Excelsior program, the governor's office released a budget briefing book later Tuesday that spelled out other higher education spending. The budget also proposes:
* Maintaining funding for State University of New York campuses at $2.9 billion;
* Cutting $18 million in aid to community colleges;
* Requiring food pantries on all SUNY and CUNY campuses; and,
* Replacing the state’s Bundy Aid program, which provides $30 million in unrestricted support to more than 100 private colleges and universities, with a competitive matching grants program.