Will more states offer free college? Poll finds plurality agrees with free tuition

New York became the first state to offer free public college education on Monday -- a decision met with both cheers and jeers.

A new AOL News poll a slight plurality of respondents think the program should be expanded to other states.

Of those polled, 49 percent of people surveyed think every state should offer free four-year college tuition to public schools. In comparison, 44 percent of respondents said they do not think every state should offer free tuition. Seven percent said they were unsure.

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Earlier this week New York lawmakers approved a budget plan that included a tuition-free option for students who meet certain requirements. Those eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship will still need to pay for room, board and other expenses.

Once the program is completely rolled out by 2019, over 940,000 families will be eligible to apply, costing the Empire State roughly $163 million each year.

The affordability of a college education has been a political topic of contention. While many critics -- particularly fiscal conservatives -- have suggested free college is unrealistic for taxpayers, proponents in the progressive community have advocated for cheaper options for higher education as a benefit to the public.

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Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders won support among many young voters during the campaign when he promised to offer free college education to all Americans. Sanders joined New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January for the announcement of the Excelsior Scholarship.

"Higher education in America should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few," Sanders said in a statement last week. "If we are to succeed in a highly competitive global economy and have the best-educated workforce in the world, public colleges and universities must become tuition-free for working families and we must substantially reduce student debt."

Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also praised Cuomo and New York, tweeting earlier this week that this was a "great step for progressives."