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Lawmakers propose free college tuition for volunteer firefighters, EMS

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  • Staff Report 

State lawmakers are pushing new legislation to provide free tuition at State University of New York (SUNY), City University of New York (CUNY), and community colleges for active volunteer firefighters, EMS workers, and auxiliary police officers. The bill aims to reverse the decline in volunteer emergency responder numbers while rewarding those already serving.


Eligible students must qualify for in-state tuition rates and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA while actively volunteering. The program would cover tuition for one undergraduate degree but not housing, fees, or other non-tuition expenses. SUNY tuition for state residents was $7,070 for the 2023-24 academic year.

This initiative joins other state measures, such as increasing tax credits for volunteer firefighters and EMS workers. The number of active EMS practitioners in New York dropped from over 40,000 in 2019 to 33,000 in 2022, highlighting the need for such incentives to address the volunteer shortage.