By now, you’ve probably heard about New York State passing legislation to create a program for free two- and four-year tuition to the 64 State University of New York (SUNY) schools. The legislation is groundbreaking, but what does it all mean? Is it really free (Obvious answer is no; tax payers pay for it)? What’s the catch? NPR.org took the time to break down the stipulations in the Excelsior Scholarship, the official name of the program to provide tuition to full-time students in SUNY schools, including SUNY schools and some community colleges in the Hudson Valley.
You can find the full breakdown in the article, but, in summary, eligible recipients (income under $100,000) are required to attend full time for two or four year degree programs, graduate on time, and stick around New York state for two years after they graduate. While the idea of graduates having to stay in New York for two years after graduating, even if they get a better job offer somewhere else, has stuck in the craw of some Internet commenters (go to NPR’s FB page for comments since NPR no longer allows comments on articles), another issue for concern is that the scholarship may benefit higher-income students more than lower-income. From the article:
“Students must first apply for, and use, other money like federal Pell Grants, before turning to the scholarship. That, in turn, means that low-income students have less to gain from the scholarship than do students from families who are too wealthy to qualify for those grants.”
Still, this could change the economic outlook of areas around the state that stand to benefit from an injection of fresh college grads (we’re looking at you, Buffalo), making the tax-driven program an true investment in the state’s future. What do you think of the program? Let us know in the comments!