by Elizabeth Elizalde
If you graduated from college in 2014 or later and went to school in New York State, you may find yourself eligible for a New Year’s gift of college debt repayment courtesy of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
This comes at a great time for many recent grads. The class of 2015 left school with an average debt of $35,051, according to Edvisors.com, a website that provides information to students and parents about college costs and financial aid.
That’s no surprise when you consider the steep price of an education. Tuition for in-state private universities like Columbia costs about $53,000 minus room and board. And while CUNY and SUNY college tuition ranges from $6,000 to $10,000, many borrow and struggle mightily to pay it.
So that’s why Governor Cuomo’s “Get on Your Feet” program seems really like a gift. It will pay the federal loan college debt of individual students for up to 24 months. Cuomo said, “Ensuring students are able to pay for college and not saddled with debt is critical for both their individual success and the continued economic growth of New York State. If you invest in New York’s future, we’ll invest in yours.”
College debt can cripple financial lives for a long time. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York found, in a 2014 study, that student loan debt prevented people in their late twenties and thirties from buying, homes and cars and fully participating in the American Dream.
So the Cuomo program, which again will repay up to 24 months of your debt, can take the edge off until you get started and earn enough to pay down your loan yourself.
It works this way:
You can apply now. The state began taking applications December 31st.
You qualify if you have federal college loan debt and enrolled in the federal Pay as Your Earn program or the Income Based Repayment plan.
You must apply within two years of your graduation and have an earned an undergraduate bachelor’s degree from a college or university in New York State.
You must earn less $50,000 a year and show proof of employment.
Although the program just launched, 2,500 graduates from the class of 2015 registered on the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation website. The repayment deal may extend to 2020 and the state expects about 24,000 students to participate.
Questions remain, however, for undocumented students who don’t receive federal aid. Cuomo didn’t specify whether the plan will cover students under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Stay tuned on that front.
And despite the good news, I found people on social media a little wary. “I would like to see this put into action, but I would need more information on how it specifically works,” said Duke Nagrampa, a former Brooklyn College student who graduated in the class of 2014.
Dawn Eligio, who attended Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, asked a good question: “Is this applicable for graduates of community colleges?”
Unfortunately, the program doesn’t cover two-year schools.
We’ll keep you updated when we know more.