Students hold up signs as they attend a demonstration calling for lower tuition at Hunter College in New York, Nov. 12, 2015. Reuters

When Bernie Sanders announced he would no longer pursue the Democratic nomination in the 2016 presidential election, it seemed there would no longer be much hope for making college tuition free. However, Sanders recently joined New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to put together a plan that would grant qualified New York students cost-free university schooling.

“This is the most important issue this state and nation must address: higher education and its affordability,” Cuomo said while unveiling the plan Tuesday. “If we can help you do well, we will. Because that’s the American dream.”

The Excelsior Scholarship aims to make college free for any city or state college student in New York if his or her family makes less than $125,000 annually. If it’s approved by the state legislature, the program is expected to cost $163 million when it’s implemented in 2019, though it’s unclear exactly where those funds will come from.

The student debt crisis came to the forefront of the presidential race when Sanders made free college a central tenet of his platform. Since then, both Democrats and Republicans have addressed the issue.

“The debt should not be an albatross around their necks for the rest of their lives, and that’s what it is,” Donald Trump said in an October speech in Columbus, Ohio. “We’re gonna work it out.”

Exactly how the President-elect will work it out remains to be seen, though he has mentioned modifying payments based on income for lower payments and earlier forgiveness.

Around 70 percent of graduates who received a bachelor’s degree are saddled with debt, according to Marketwatch. That’s not only more students taking on loans than ever before but also much larger loans than ever before. The amount borrowed in 2012 was more than twice that of college graduates 20 years ago, according to the Pew Research Center.

“College is a mandatory step if you really want to be a success … and this society should say we’re going to pay for college because you need college to be successful,” said Cuomo. “Other countries have already done it. It’s time this country catches up.”