New York Governor revealed in his FY 2019 budget proposal that the state’s free tuition program would be extended to illegal immigrant students. According to a briefing book, Cuomo’s plan “includes legislation to implement the DREAM Act, opening the door of higher education to thousands of New Yorkers.”

new york free tuition to illegal immigrants

The briefing states that illegal immigrants have been accepted for in-state tuition at the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) since 2002, however, but explains that each year, “many talented students who graduate from New York high schools remain unable to fulfill their potential simply because they cannot afford the tuition and lack of access to tuition assistance to help pay for school.”

In 2017, Governor Cuomo launched a program to make tuition free-of-charge at SUNY and CUNY. The option is available during the 2018-2019 school year to resident students whose family income is not above $110,000. This year, according to his FY ‘19 budget briefing, he’s taking it a stride forward by extending free education under his “Excelsior Scholarship Program” to students who illegally reside in the country.

The DREAM Act declares that an investment in young immigrants’ futures is an investment in New York’s future. It further states that the act will give undocumented students access to the new Excelsior Scholarship, the Tuition Assistance Program as well as other state-administered scholarship. It was during the Executive Budget Address, where Cuomo announced his record of restoring fiscal discipline while simultaneously achieving historic progressive accomplishments and strengthening middle-class New Yorkers.

A Summary of the Legislation in FY ‘18

On April 12, 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had signed a bill into law on providing free tuition to students who attend the state’s public colleges and universities. New York became the first state to offer free four-year college to students. The funds for the program would be exclusively for tuition purpose, and students would still need to acquire other resources to pay for room, board, and other indirect fees. The program only covers tuition fees which are not covered by other grants. Students whose family income limit is less than $100,000 per year would be eligible for the grant if they enroll full-time at any community college or public university within the state.  

Republicans in the New York Senate successfully lobbied to force students to live an work in the state for as many years as they received aid. On failing to do so, the grant would be turned into a loan. Moreover, one-third of students in New York public universities enroll part-time whereas only students who enroll full-time are eligible for the grant.

The program’s 30-credit requirement which was criticized by some was said to be a research-proven strategy to raise GPAs, improve retention rates and ultimately boost the college completion in the state.

Other States That Offer Free Tuition

Since 2015, states like Oregon, Rhode Island, Montana, Minnesota, Kentucky, Arkansas, Nevada and West Virginia have enacted legislation for a promise program. However, New York with its Excelsior Scholarship Program still remains the only state to offer last-dollar assistance to students at the four-year level.

To qualify for tuition-free programs, in-state students may apply to the state’s tuition-free scholarship program and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Here is a list of colleges that offer tuition-free programs in the country.

Unemployment Insurance is a social welfare program organized by the State Unemployment Agencies. In New York State you are eligible to get Unemployment Compensation if you are unemployed through no faults of yours and are actively looking for a job. The benefits you receive provide you temporary financial assistance until you get another job. Many unemployed people apply for the benefit to compensate their income while they are searching for new job.

As a localite of New York you are expected to follow some steps to become eligible for unemployment benefits. Let us look into them:

Prior to submitting an appeal

It is very important to collect details of all the documents you need to submit while applying for unemployment benefit claim.

  • Addresses and names of your employers for the last 18 months you worked for
  • New York State’s drivers license card or motor vehicle ID Card number
  • Your mailing address
  • Telephone number
  • Your Social Security Number
  • If you are citizen of any other Country then alien registration card number
  • Identification number of Federal Employer (FEIN) which is found on your W2
  • If you want direct deposit then your bank account numbers are also required.

You are entitled to collect the benefit even if you don’t produce all the above stated documents but the process may get delayed.

In order to maintain your eligibility for obtaining the compensation you need to be available for work and actively seek jobs by applying for job opportunities. You may also be requested to present the documents of your job search efforts. You must be ready to accept the suitable job as per your qualification, training and experience.

Filing for unemployment compensation in New York

Filing the Claim

You can file the claim either through the Internet or by telephone.

For online filing visit New York Department of Labor / Employment Website.

You may file via telephone by calling 1-888-209-8124 which is a toll-free number between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday. If you need to file your claim by phone, an automated voice will offer you the choice of filing in English, Spanish, Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Creole, or “all other languages” (translation services will be provided).

Unemployment Compensation

If you are sure that you qualify for unemployment, then you can surely claim for the compensation from the Department of Labor. Once you are eligible for the benefits then you can receive the temporary compensation. In the state of New York, you will be eligible to collect benefits up to a maximum of $ 405, which is actually half of the state’s average weekly wage. The average weekly unemployment benefit for all states is $293. If you are eligible for extended benefits then the weekly benefit amount paid for additional weeks will also be the same as your as your regular compensation.