For the first time in the history of the United States, New York is on the verge of becoming the first state to offer free tuition for going to a four-year college. The plan is called the Excelsior Scholarship and is going through New York's congress. Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo seized the idea for this plan during last year's presidential election and first proposed it this past January.

What is the Excelsior Scholarship and its requirements?

The Excelsior Scholarship is going to cover the tuition for any family in New York that makes less than $125,000 a year. The other requirement is that students must be accepted to any one of New York's public community colleges or public four-year universities. With the average cost of tuition for these New York schools being around $4,350 for public community colleges and $6,740 for public four-year universities this will help save a lot of money for families and students.

The Excelsior Scholarship is going to apply to around 80% of the current 940,000 families in the state that have college-aged children.

The tuition plan for the Excelsior Scholarship will be played out over a three-year phase, with it first applying to families that make $100,000 or less and getting to the $125,000 mark by 2019. The initiative will also have a new $19 million tuition award program attached to it for those who attended a private college.

Students entering college who receive the award must be enrolled as full-time students, take a certain amount of credits each year and must maintain a certain grade point average.

While the Excelsior Scholarship will help with the ever-growing student loan epidemic in America, some student aid experts are finding a problem with one part of the plan. Students who receive aid from the program must live and work in the state for the same amount of time they receive the scholarship.

If that part of the agreement is violated, then the tuition saved from the scholarship will be turned into student loans. However, in certain extreme cases, there will be exceptions for this rule.

What final hurdles does it need to go through?

The Excelsior Scholarship is included as part of New York's $163 billion budget plan that has made its way through the state congress. The bill has already been passed by the Democrat-controlled New York State Assembly.

The budget will then make its way to the Republican-controlled New York Senate, who will voted on it this Sunday. However, many are expecting the budget bill to have no trouble passing, since Republican Senate Leader John Flanagan from Long Island is supporting the plan. It is estimated that the total cost of the Excelsior Scholarship program will be around $163 million.

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