New York Offers Free 4-Year Tuition

This past week, the state of New York has managed to pass a new budget in favor of offering free tuition for in-state, full-time students. That sounds like sweet music to the ears for all of us knee-deep-in-debt college students. But what are the tradeoffs? If this is a great offer, how many other states are sure to follow?

Our previous presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton championed the idea of free education around this country. Now, New York becomes the first state to make it happen. Governor Cuomo introduced this idea in only January and gained support from the legislature.

New York governor with legislatures after budget approval
Source: governor.ny.gov

The Excelsior Scholarship will provide free tuition to full-time students at SUNY and CUNY, NY state colleges. Students much maintain a passing GPA and the family income is $125,000 or less. Graduates will have to stay to work in New York for the time length they were in school as a stipulation to the scholarship.

New York, what do you think?

Sounds too good to be true? Sounds mediocre? There happens to be much criticism around this decision by progressives. How could this be a bad idea?

According to Jordan Weissmann at Slate, “New York will cover the cost of tuition, but only after subtracting the value of other grants and scholarships students receives…And about those living expenses: Students will still be expected to pay for them.”

Potential NY SUNY bill after scholarship is applied
Source: CNN Money

Room and board at SUNY, NY’s flagship school, is more than 2x the tuition. How beneficial can a bill be that still requires students to use their scholarship money to offset the free tuition and affects not the room and board? Also, let’s not forget the high cost of living in New York City as well. Graduates will have to obtain jobs with a salary of $86,000 to live comfortably in the city. However, the rest of the state will be more affordable.

The Excelsior Scholarship is a good step in the right direction of free education, but there’s more to do. Students in New York now have options to attend school with a smaller financial burden. That’s always a plus, right?