Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the nation's first tuition-free college program for students at two-year and four-year public schools will pay the bill for about 22,000 New York students in its first year.
The Excelsior Scholarship program pays the balance not covered by other state and federal financial aid and scholarships for New York residents who are financially eligible.
Tuition is about $6,500 at four-year public colleges and $4,800 at two-year community colleges in the State University of New York and City University of New York systems. The program does not cover living expenses, books and fees.
"A college degree now is what a high school diploma was 30 years ago...