There’s a big string attached to New York’s free middle-class college tuition initiative: Students must stay in the state after graduation or else pay back the benefit.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that the requirement was added to protect the state’s investment in a student’s education by ensuring they don’t take advantage of free tuition and then leave New York. The rule wasn’t a part of Cuomo’s free college tuition proposal when he unveiled it in January but was inserted during final negotiations with lawmakers over the state budget, which was approved Sunday.

The tuition initiative, which Cuomo said is a national model, covers state college or university tuition for in-state students from families earning $125,000 or less. Students must remain in New York for as many years as they received the benefit. They must repay the money as a loan if they take a job in another state.

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