Cuomo’s “Get on Your Feet” Forgiveness Program

Here’s a first!

On January 21st, 2015, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that his state will finance and fund a Student Loan Forgiveness Program of their own.

As far as I know, this is the first time that a state will be providing a general debt forgiveness program of their own.

Yes, it’s true that Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Programs are currently provided by New York, California, Florida, Illinois and Texas, but Cuomo’s student loan forgiveness program appears like it’ll be available to a much wider population than just nurses.

In the Governor’s own words, the purpose of this program is to address the fact that New York’s recent college graduates “have high debt and low wages…”, so the state is going to “pay the[ir] debt for the first two years so they can get their feet under them and get on with their lives.”

My opinion? Not a bad deal for those of you who can take advantage of this, and certainly one that may be worth considering attending school in New York rather than elsewhere.

New York State Student Loan Forgiveness

Governor Cuomo’s plan promises to provide 7,100 college graduates in New York state with major financial assistance during it’s first year (2015), with that number set to rise on each subsequent year thereafter.

Under this forgiveness program, graduates from New York-based two or four-year schools who enroll in the Federal Government’s Pay As You Earn Student Loan Repayment Plan will have the balance of their student loan payments not covered by PAYE subsidized by New York state.

This plan only promises to offer financial assistance during the first two years after graduation, but it means that upcoming graduates will essentially have two years to find stable employment and get their financial house in order before having to face a single student loan payment.

Governor Cuomo’s office estimates that this plan will cost the state something like $41.7 million annually by the year 2020, but also promises that it will help 24,000 graduates pay off their debt each year.

Eligibility for the Program

To qualify for the Cuomo student loan forgiveness program, you must:

  • Graduate from a college or university in New York
  • Continue to live in the state after graduation
  • Enroll in the Federal Pay As You Earn student loan repayment plan (PAYE)
  • Earn under $50,000 per year
  • Graduate in 2015 or later

To tell you the truth, that makes this one of the easiest debt relief programs to qualify for, with the only real requirement being that you graduate from a school in New York State, and continue to live there without making a great salary.

A huge portion of college graduates in 2015 and the years ahead are likely to qualify for this program, and if I were a betting man, I’d put money on the fact that you’ll see college applications at New York state schools skyrocket in upcoming years.

What Else Does Cuomo’s Plan Include?

Student loan forgiveness isn’t the only component of Governor Cuomo’s plan, but it certainly is both the most popular, and most controversial piece of the program.

In addition to providing debt relief, the Get on Your Feet program also promises to improve relationships between community colleges and employers, providing new training opportunities for workers and investing more money into the New York state venture fund created to assist start-up companies.

What Do You Think?

Will this program be enough to help recent college graduates find solid financial footing, or is it too little, too late? Should other states follow in Governor Cuomo’s footsteps by introducing similar debt forgiveness programs of their own?

Please let me know what you think in the comments section below.


Tim's experience battling crushing student loan debt led him to create the website Forget Student Loan Debt, where he offers advice on dealing with excessive student loans and advocates a cautious approach to funding education costs via borrowed money.