Local students can officially now start applying for free college. It’s expected that 63% of college-age students living in the Hudson Valley are now eligible for free college.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the application for the Excelsior Scholarship is now open. The first-in-the-nation program would cover four-year tuition for those attending in-state schools and whose families earn 125-thousand-dollars or less.

“The dream of a college education and a better life is now within reach for all New Yorkers," Gov. Cuomo said. "A college degree has become a necessity to succeed in the modern economy, and this program is the ticket to greater opportunity and will help build the stronger, smarter workforce New York needs to compete in the global economy."

To be eligible for an Excelsior Scholarship, students must be New York State residents, plan to attend a SUNY or CUNY two- or four-year college, take 30 credits per year, including Summer and Winter sessions, and be on track to graduate on time with an Associate’s Degree in two years or a Bachelor’s Degree in four years.

Students still have to pay for room and board. In most cases, students must stay in New York for the same number of years they receive the money or pay the state back.

According to the Governor’s office, nearly 80 percent, or 940,000 middle-class families, would qualify to attend college tuition-free when fully phased in.

The Governor’s office estimates that the program will help 92,333 Hudson Valley families with college-age students.

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