The New York legislature has approved a proposal by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to offer “free tuition” to middle-income New Yorkers to go to two- and four-year state colleges.
CNN Money reports that the plan, called the Excelsior Scholarship, means that some students will pay nothing for tuition:
Those eligible will pay nothing for tuition, which costs $6,470 annually at four-year schools and about $4,350 a year at community colleges. But they will still be on the hook for the cost of fees and room and board if they live on campus. Those other expenses can add up to $14,000 a year.
Here are some of the features of the program:
- Family makes $100,000 a year or less
- Must take 30 credits per year unless facing hardship, in which case they can take less
- Student may stop and restart the program
- After graduation, students must live and work in New York for the same number of years or the free tuition converts to a loan
- $19 million has been allotted to help poorer students who go to private colleges
- After they graduate, students who receive the scholarship must live and work in
- 200,000-940,000 students will be eligible for free tuition when plan is fully implemented in 2019
- The governor says the program will cost no more than $163 million in the first year
- No cap on how much a student may get in “free” tuition
NBC News reports that the “scholarship” requires a “minimum” GPA:
There is no age limit for the program; once students receive the Excelsior Scholarship they must be enrolled full-time with an average of at least 30 credits per year and continue to meet the minimum GPA requirement for their program.
CNN reports that the money is kicked in when students have exhausted their appeals for state grants. More than 60 percent of the students at CUNY already pay nothing for tuition.
Governor Cuomo released a statement saying that a college degree is as necessary as a high school diploma used to be:
“Today, college is what high school was — it should always be an option even if you can’t afford it.”
But there’s no option for taxpayers, who noticed right away that one man’s “free” is another man’s burden.
On Twitter, Kathy Rose reminded people of a simple law of economics:
SOMEONE pays..(No such thing as a free lunch.)
— Lady Sunflower (@kallrose) April 10, 2017
This man wanted to know why no one asked him if it was OK:
Did the taxpayers vote for that? Free not free.
— Susan Smith (@swirllysunspot) April 10, 2017
And the taxes for the poor will go up resulting in more free stuff resulting in more taxes resulting in more free stuff resulting in more t-
— Alex ??? (@alex_ents) April 10, 2017
Jan has a good question:
Who pays for the "free" tuition?
— Janet Lee Brenner (@JanBrenner) April 10, 2017
Because eventually you run out of other people’s money:
When they say 'free' they just mean someone else is paying for it, right?
— Bar1nyc.com (@Bar1nyc) April 10, 2017
Good news for California:
Hooray for them!!! California is no longer the stupiest state!!!!!!
— johnniebgoode (@johnniebgoode) April 10, 2017
This person wanted to know if the professors and others working in state universities are working for free:
Are the professors working for free?
— maria (@mariamcg20) April 10, 2017
This person isn’t going to like the answer to this question:
So I worked to put myself through 5 years of college and now I'm working to put others through college!?!
— beakergmgk (@beakergmgk) April 10, 2017
New York becomes the first state to give taxpayer funds to college students for tuition.
Cuomo worked with Sanders for the free college program, but Hillary Clinton voiced her approval:
Let's celebrate New York State getting something important done that we wanted to do nationally. A great step for progressives. https://t.co/CmUZ8njtWF
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 8, 2017
The program will start next fall.