A growing group of states across the nation are offering to pay the tuition costs for college students. In April, New York became the first state in the United States to offer its residents tuition-free attendance at public four-year colleges and universities and community college when the state legislature approved the Excelsior Scholarship program. In May, Tennessee lawmakers gave final approval to Tennessee Reconnect, making community college across the state tuition-free for adults over 24 — as it has been for high school graduates in state since 2014.
California could be the next to join the ranks: In April state lawmakers introduced the Degrees Not Debt scholarship. A $1.5 billion program to be phased in over five years, Degrees Not Debt would make money available to University of California and Cal State University undergraduates who already qualify for need-based aid but struggle paying non-tuition expenses, such as books, transportation and housing. The projected impact in the state, where roughly half of students graduate with student loan debt, was 392,000 students.