As of last Sunday night, New York has officially become the first and only state to offer free postsecondary education to all qualifying residents, per an NBC News report.

The scholarship will be implemented in three stages

The initial phase of New York's Excelsior Scholarship Program will be designed to cover students who come from a family with less than $100K in annual income and is expected to be implemented as soon as this coming school year. Phase two in 2018 will open the opportunity up to more individuals, as it will aim to cover those from families making up to $110K yearly.

The third and final phase, projected to kick off in 2019, is the most generous of all- allowing up to $125K in annual income. Reports claim that while there are a few other states that regularly dole out a hefty amount of scholarship money, New York is the only one that won't necessarily be merit-based: residency and income will be the only two determining factors.

8 out of 10 families will be affected by the new program

According to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the scholarship makes college as accessible as high school and allows the idea of a four-year degree to "always be an option even if you can't afford it." Logistically speaking, about 80% of New York families will benefit from the new program, according to NBC News.

The governor estimates the total number of potentially affected families to be somewhere around 940,000.

Critics say the Excelsior Scholarship Program doesn't help everyone

However, not everyone is a fan of the new scholarship. Victor M. Pichardo, an assemblyman from the Bronx, implied that the Excelsior Scholarship Program, while generous in theory, will essentially do nothing for many of his constituents and their children.

He explained that while many of the students from his zone looking to attend college do indeed qualify for Pell Grants and other educational assistance from the government, the cost of things like transportation, housing, and food still place an exceedingly large burden on their families. He continued that life is quite different for those kids that come from very poor families when compared to those from a bit more affluence, and noted that the strain of paying for everything else that comes with college is still something that needs to be addressed.

Bernie Sanders has endorsed Governor Cuomo's program all the way through

Sources indicate that former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has been very supportive of Governor Cuomo's program since its first proposal, and was even on hand at a press conference earlier this year to applaud the 59-year-old's game-changing efforts to make education accessible to all. Calling it nothing short of a "revolutionary idea," Sanders vowed the program would soon expand to impact the entire rest of the country.

A longtime proponent of progressive policies, Cuomo has been hailed as a hero for many steps taken by his office- including granting relatively early support to legislation allowing same-sex marriage and making New York one of the first 25 states to legalize marijuana.

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