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New York’s Free Tuition Program Too Good To Be True?

NY Free College Tuition

Yesterday, New York became the only state in the country to offer universal public college tuition to working and middle-class residents after the program was approved Sunday night.

According to NBC News, the Excelsior Scholarship program will begin this fall with full coverage of four-year college tuition for students whose families make less than $100,000. In 2018, the income cap will increase to $110,000 and $125,000 in 2019.

Approximately 80% of New York families with college-age kids will qualify for the program, which will be included in the state’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Sounds good, right?

Unfortunately, like with most good things, there is a catch. Students who receive a free ride at CUNY and SUNY schools must live and work in New York State for up to four years after graduation or they’ll be forced to pay the money back.

Apparently, this change wasn’t a part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s original plan. The amendment was reportedly added after Republican members of the GOP claimed that taxpayer-educated students would take their newfound knowledge and move to other parts of the U.S. – but isn’t that what college students do anyway?

“New York spends $1 billion on college financial assistance. There is a brain-drain problem,” Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif said in a statement. We have to get away from educating people and then having them move away. We want to create a climate for business and new jobs.”

Agreeing with Reif, Cuomo accepted the change.

“Why should New Yorkers pay for your college education and then you pick up and you move to California?” Cuomo said during a call with state editorial writers.

“The concept of investing in you and your education is that you’re going to stay here and be an asset to the state. If you don’t want to stay here, then go to California now, let them pay for your college education.”

Tabitha Shiflett is a graduate of the Dub (The University of North Carolina Wilmington, UNCW). She's written for Her Campus, CBS Local, and Elite Daily. She is currently enrolled in the Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism MA program at The New School in New York City.
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