NY’s free-college-program blown away by both the right and left


They say that there is no such thing as a free lunch, but what about the free university? New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the nation’s first lessons free college-program for the middle-class families, ” as he put it.

At 11AM: @HillaryClinton to subscribe me to a free public school in class New Yorkers in the law today. Join us on Facebook.

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) 12 April 2017

Proposed by Gov. Cuomo in January, the “Excelsior Exchange” was included in the state budget and passed into law by the New York state legislature on April 9. Three days later, Hillary Clinton, a member of the New York governor for a bill signing. The former minister of foreign affairs and the New York senator praised the effort, saying: “it is the fastest way to working and middle-class families to raise.”

Touted as a milestone and a first-in-the-nation is an initiative of the Empire State, the program has been heavily criticized by both the left and the right, seemingly satisfying neither side.


The left argues that the stock market did not go far enough in helping poor students. The judge says that it will hurt taxpayers, many of them earn less than the scholarship recipients.

New York families earning up to $125,000 per year to be eligible for free tuition at state two – and four-year colleges in the City University of New York and the State University of New York System. According to the Census data for 2015, the most recent year available, the median household income in the State of New York was $59,269.

To participate, students must graduate within the traditional two-or four-year timeline, and they will be responsible for the room and the board of directors, which can reach up to $12,590 per year for students living on campus and $3,860 for commuting New York lives. Textbooks, and other costs, are not covered.

Students eligible for free lessons, other scholarships, or Pell Grants – but the Excelsior scholarships will only fill tuition gap and will not give the recipients the full amount.


That is not all. After graduation, students in the Excelsior Scholarship, must live and work in New York for the same number of years that he accepted the funds. That means that students who took four years of tuition fees due the state of New York the first four years of their career, otherwise, the scholarship turns into a loan. With limited mobility, the initiative can also be effective for upward mobility. The only exceptions come in the form of suspension, or for extreme hardship, or graduate school.

Critics claim that the bill is only the burden elsewhere.

Mary Clare Reim, a policy analyst in the education policy at The Heritage Foundation, wrote that “the students four years of tuition-free college does not mean that the professors have generously decided to waive their salaries and academic buildings now come rent-free. In fact, it does not even mean that the universities have a plan to cut administrative burden to focus more of their efforts on academics.”

In her commentary in the Daily Signal, Reim argued that, although this bill is proposed as a win for middle-class families, the average taxpayer will lose.

“Indeed, the offer of free college for students, this means that someone else is now paying off: New York taxpayers, many of whom are not in possession of a bachelor’s degree in itself and will likely earn less in the future than their college-going counterparts, who foot the bill.”

The website Inside Higher Ed reported that “critics have argued that New York city has not set aside sufficient financial resources to cover the costs. They say that New York is the allocation, $163 million over three years, is not sufficient for a potential 940,000 families.”

Indicate more problems with the bill, Inside Higher Ed says that “administrators at some of New York’s private colleges and universities – many of which are critical of the free public college program, or think that it is a threat to their institutions’ futures – being of the language in the authorization bill that allows the state of the Higher Education Services Corporation to set up a lottery for the awarding of scholarships in the event that the funding does not match demand. They have taken to mockingly calling the program the ” SUNY Powerball.'”

It remains to be seen whether any other states adopt similar laws, going forward.

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