Published: Tue, April 18, 2017
Local | By Adrian Hale

New York Passes Plan For Free Public College

New York Passes Plan For Free Public College

Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple University, said the emphasis on free tuition could encourage many people to apply. That powerful message is simple enough to put on a bumper sticker. If New York moves more toward a purely publicly funded model, it may suffer from the slow decay that has hurt many state systems. In reality, Albany has birthed an upper middle-class entitlement that won't increase the number of students going to college.

"We are grateful to see higher education take a prominent place in the Governor's budget", Kirk Young said. The other is the pocketbook interest of the middle and upper middle class, a large and politically active part of the population.

It seems that Cuomo isn't almost as ambitious as fixing the problem of higher education as he is with running for the White House. State cuts constitute roughly 70% of the rise in list price tuition at public universities over the same period.

But Goldrick-Rab, the author of the recent book, Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream, called the provision that students must live and work in NY a "poison pill" by limiting mobility, among other factors.

Potential students with families that have annual income of $125,000 or less will qualify for this new Excelsior Scholarship. The plan also provides $19 million in Enhanced Tuition Awards for students who want to attend private schools like Utica College.

Ashley Mendez, 18, a journalism and communications major, said the proposal is a fair compromise because many residents will stay anyway. Many of these schools are already struggling to survive. As a result, they won't get any Excelsior money. That component is vital, as it would provide an effective safety net for students whose families lack the necessary resources. "And I hope it will also send a message to employers that they want to start making plans to come to NY, because New York will provide exactly the kind of workforce that the governor has promised".

Of course, it goes without saying that tuition is hardly the only variable in the cost of attending a modern American college, and the scholarship is not without its caveats.

Those funds would be available to students whose families earn up to $145,000 per year. This example shows the political wisdom behind the program. Also it caps off at $125,000, as if someone making $126,000 couldn't benefit from this. They are the big winners, and they vote. Each extra year costs you time and money.

The Excelsior Scholarship is a "last-dollar" grant. Student 1 graduates with $37,000 in student loan debt, while student 2 finishes college debt free.

"It would just be a lot simpler to get rid of tuition", he said. The union says almost half of current CUNY undergraduates report not being able to take a course they need for their major. Free tuition proposals address neither of these issues, while funneling scarce public resources to families making nearly double the median family income.

Nobody is obligated to avail themselves of this new program.

According to the article, "If they (students) leave, the full grant retroactively becomes a loan". The scholarships cover only tuition, not room, board and books, which can easily exceed tuition costs.

The program's hard cutoff at $100,000 of adjusted gross income also has consequences. NY officials believe it will help an estimated 940,000 families. Back in 2013, The New York Times reported that someone would need to make $166,000 in Manhattan to enjoy the same purchasing power as $70,000 nationwide.

She said requiring students to remain in NY after graduation will help the state's economy.

New York's program covers none of that.

"No child will be denied college because they can't afford it", Cuomo told the cheering crowd. That is already a very affordable option as it relates to a college education.

SUNY's Zimpher responded that the state's program extends possibilities to kids on the "edge" of other financial assistance programs who might have never thought college was possible. At the City University of New York (CUNY), fees are an average of $475, but add on another close to $12,000 if you're not a commuter for housing and food.

After all, there's no such thing as "free". It was, after all, a NY newspaper editor, Horace Greeley, who advised, “Go West!

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