The Cons Of New York's Free Tuition For Four-Year Courses

By Claire Parker, Parent Herald April 13, 04:00 am

New York became the first state to offer free tuition to students taking up four-year courses both in public colleges and universities. Many commended Governor Andrew Cuomo for the initiative but others believe it might do more harm than good.

The project called Excelsior Scholarship got passed in the Senate and the Congress last week. The program could cut the cost of four-year courses from $83,000 minus $26,000 for the whole four years. Students who could avail of the Excelsior Scholarship should come from families who have an income of $100,000 annually or lesser. It will also only be applicable to students who graduated from high school and went straight to a public college or university.

Students who are under the Excelsior Scholarship must attend school full time and finish their course in two or four years. One of the cons pointed out by experts regarding the program is the fact that some students who come from low-income families have to work part-time jobs so they might have a difficult time finishing their chosen degree within the needed timeframe to qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship, The New York Times reported.

Another negative requirement that experts do not see helping students is that the Excelsior Scholarship will not cover room or board expenses as well as the needed funds for books. D. Bruce Johnstone, a former State University of New York chancellor, said if the government wanted to help students graduate on time and help them earn a degree while their family has limited and low income, the Excelsior Scholarship is not the answer. He added, "This is going to cost money, and it will make some parents happy, but I don't see it moving the accessibility needle."

After completing the four-year or two-year degree, those who benefited from the Excelsior Scholarship must also live and work in New York for the same number of years they were under the free tuition project. This is one of the most criticized aspect of the Excelsior Scholarship because if the students who got the assistance from the government will not stay in New York after graduating and satisfy that requirement, the money given to them under the program will be converted to student loan, New York Daily News shared.

Despite the criticism, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton celebrated the milestone on Twitter. She wrote, "Let's celebrate New York State getting something important done that we wanted to do nationally. A great step for progressives."

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