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New York Free Tuition Program To Be Extended to Dreamers

Updated : December 11th, 2018

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.

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  1. I work for a church pre school program and I have lost my job due to coronavirus. When I applied for unemployment in Texas it says that two does not except this employer as my last employer. I’ve been working there for 13 years. What do I do?

  2. Chad ….. how do I get thru when it wont accept my ID or my password. I change it 5 times and it still wont work. Calling is not working at any time when I spend and whole day calling back to back to get thru. why don’t they just help or force the employers ( company) to place they claims in for their workers like GM did……I NEED HELP…PLEASE.

    1. Chad,

      We understand this might be a difficult time for you. We’re anticipating a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications considering the pandemic. We advise against calling or visiting the office, as you may not get a response instantly.

      Your state may have activated “Extended Benefits (EB)” authorized by the federal government. We recommend you apply for UI benefits online. For more information, please visit your state’s official Unemployment website.

  3. i live in ga…all the day cares have shut down my wife and i have full time jobs,,,but i have to leave my company which i have been there for over two years,to take care of our child….can i still collect unemployment…this covid virus is why i have to leave my job…

    1. Gary,

      We understand this might be a difficult time for you. We’re anticipating a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications considering the pandemic. We advise against calling or visiting the office, as you may not get a response instantly.

      Your state may have activated “Extended Benefits (EB)” authorized by the federal government. We recommend you apply for UI benefits online. For more information, please visit your state’s official Unemployment website.

  4. are you kidding me my son lost his job on 10/17/2020 hes mentally challenged and cant file on his own because he doesn’t know how so I started going to sites trying to file for him and the residence inn Marriott promised to help him and have done zip . ive tried 10 different sites and I keep getting dropped wen I complete forms and push submit. 12 days now n still cant file a claim.

    1. Martin,

      There’s only one website you should be trying from. Please let us know your state and we’ll share the website information.

  5. I have submitted my forms EXACTLY as I was instructed too on line. Even though I have filled out the paperwork correctly I keep getting emails asking for me to fill out the form that I have done multiple times already. Remuneration – Claimant Questionnaire is the issue. I got online and requested a phone call. 3 days ago. I just need to know that you guys received everything and I don’t owe any more information.
    Nobody answers the 617-626-6800 number. Just get directed to the internet. Well, you can’t speak with the internet. I am getting mixed messages and I fret that this will delay any benefits.
    Could someone please give me a call.

    1. James,

      Please try finding answers online since there might be limited phone support due to the shortage of staffing. This is a private forum and we’ll not be able to arrange a callback.

  6. I work for a church that has grown it’s congregation over almost 40 years and we now have 26 mostly full time employees, most being here many years. Will our employees be able to file and receive benefits since we are an EXEMPT from paying unemployment industry? State of Florida

  7. My unemployment benefits ran out 3/1/2020 am I able to file for extended benefits ? I live in California and am 62 years old.

    1. Ariana,

      We understand this might be a difficult time for you. We’re anticipating a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications considering the pandemic. We advise against calling or visiting the office, as you may not get a response instantly.

      Your state may have activated “Extended Benefits (EB)” authorized by the federal government. We recommend you apply for UI benefits online. For more information, please visit your state’s official Unemployment website.

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