On Tuesday, one of former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ hallmark campaign promises became more of a reality in the state of New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a plan that would provide free tuition to any of New York’s public universities for citizens whose family earns less than $125,000 per year.
“College is a mandatory step if you really want to be a success … and this society should say we’re going to pay for college because you need college to be successful,” Cuomo said at an event that announced the Excelsior College plan. “Other countries have already done it. It’s time this country catches up.”
The initiative will reach over a million middle- and low-income families in the Empire State who make less than $125,000 per year. If passed, it would go into effect in 2019 and would cost the state approximately $163 million dollars.
Sanders joined Cuomo for the announcement at LaGuardia Community College, extending his support. Sanders spent much of his time on the campaign trail this year speaking on his support for free college tuition. Following the ceremony, Sanders tweeted, “If we are serious about having the best-educated workforce in the world, we have got to make public colleges and universities tuition-free.” He also went on to say, “In the year 2017, we should be encouraging our people to get the best education they can, not punishing them with a mountain of debt.”
Students that graduated in 2015 left with an average of $30,000 of student loan debt. These debts have had a major economic impact on millennials and dictated many of their early career choices. As the need for a college degree in today’s society the grows, the question of how to make education more affordable has been quite a hot button issue.
In a post on Medium.com, Cuomo described that the “program will alleviate the crushing burden of student debt and enable thousands of New Yorkers to realize their dream of a college education.” He went on to state, “New York is the State of Opportunity and a college education must be accessible to all, not a luxury that only the wealthy can afford”.
Millennials and Debt
Easing the burden of student loan debt would likely have a significant impact on the millennial population. A 2016 study released byWells Fargo(No. 12 on the2016 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversitylist), “Majority of Millennials Say They Won’t Ever Accumulate $1 Million,” reveals that 64 percent of working millennials ages 22-35 do not believe they will save $1 million for their retirement savings.
According to the study, 75 percent of millennials reported having “unmanageable” student loan debt. And nearly three quarters of millennials do not believe that social security will be an option when they are ready to retire. However, 41 percent of millennials have still not started saving for retirement; 64 percent reported that they cannot afford to.
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