"It makes me really proud so many students stood up against this, and said, no, we're not going to let you take away our MetroCards," said Rebecca Morofsky, a high school junior.
More than 800,000 students will now continue to receive free or discounted MetroCards.
"My mom is a single mom, she just started teaching and she doesn't make a lot of money. And it would have really hurt our family," said Henry Pines, a high school junior.
The MTA had been hoping for so much more from Albany, Thursday's $25 million from Albany is just a drop in the bucket of what they say they need.
"It's great for the kids, but it's probably bad news for everyone else who uses the system because it just exacerbates the MTA's really terrible deficit," said Andrew Albert, of the MTA Board.
So instead of an $800 million deficit the MTA is now looking at much worse.
That could mean another big fare hike sooner than expected for riders, or service cuts over and above those planned for later this month.
"It means it's that much worse, in the city that never sleeps how can we have buses that don't run at night," said Shatera Gurganians, a subway and bus rider.
The MTA could balance its books with tolls on all East River bridges.
Mayor Bloomberg suggested the idea of bringing back congestion pricing on Friday.
"The Legislature, I'm still waiting for a better idea than congestion pricing. You've got to come up with money for the MTA," Mayor Bloomberg said.
For now, the MTA's sea of red ink of growing but city leaders say at least student MetroCards remain free for now.
"I was hoping Albany would do more. I think this is a victory. But could Albany have done more. Were we hoping for more? Yes," said Jimmy Vacca, the NYC Council Transportation Chair.