Free college tuition?

From the July-August 2017 issue of News & Letters

New York City—With a great deal of fanfare and publicity, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this year a program called “Excelsior,” which claimed to provide free tuition for all New York college students. The reality is a little different.

Excelsior is only for students who carry a full credit load. Many students are part-timers who work to support themselves and their families. They are excluded from the program, as are the large number of undocumented students. Furthermore, students have to be New York residents and promise to live in the state for two years after graduation, whether there are jobs available or not. How are they expected to support themselves in an economic climate where graduates find themselves working in fast-food restaurants or worse?

Students who are seeking a second degree are barred from participating in the program. They are also banned from receiving Pell Grants, forcing them to get student loans to finance their education.

All in all, an estimated 30% of New York students are barred from participating in the Excelsior program. Not exactly free tuition for all.

—Angry New Yorker

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