“Free College” in New York? Nothing is “Free.”

New York’s Governor Cuomo announced last week that the state was making it’s public four year universities “free” for residents.

Money Tree - Free- Spending - GovernmentApparently, officials in New York state believe that money grows on trees?

“Free” means tuition money in the annual amount of $6,470 at four-year colleges and about $4,350 a year at community colleges.

“Free” means the New York tax payer should check their wallet, as they’ve just been robbed by their state legislature.

This deal is called the Excelsior Scholarship and the cost of it, due to being a new entitlement which is government run, will necessarily skyrocket.

As with all government funded programs, demand will swell and in response, the colleges will be free to raise their rates without fear of losing anything.  A subsidy has been created and the college system has a gravy train to carry them along.

A huge reason the price of college is so high right now is government “help.” The federal government has subsidized students for decades, allowing colleges to raise their prices at rates far in excess of household income and even health care, and encouraging students to demand ever-greater luxuries. Use other peoples’ money and your incentives to demand efficiency wither.
(Neal McCluskey, CATO Institute – “Debt Free College? Maybe.” March 13, 2016.)

Officials in the state have said that they will increase spending on higher education in order to cover the cost of the program.

taxes - tax - free- taxpayer - government - subsidyLet that last bit sink in.

New York is already number one in the country for tax burden.

Governor Cuomo’s office stated that it expects it to cost, “$163 million in the first year.” That’s $163 million before the program is even fully phased in.

For what its’ worth — “Free” tuition was tried once before in the mid-1970’s at CUNY and had to be ended because the city was going bankrupt.

So what does this “free” deal include?

  • One needs to be an undergraduate enrolled at a SUNY (State University of NY) or at CUNY (City University of NY).
  • Starting Fall 2017, families earning under $100,000 a year are eligible and is based on the adjusted gross income reported on the recent tax return filed by the family applying.
  • Over the first three years, that income cap which will go from under 100K to $110,000 in 2018 and $125,000 in 2019.
  • Students taking the “free” deal will have to stay and work in New York anywhere from 2 to 4 years after graduation.
  • If a student is on a Pell grant, they have to stick with it and use those funds first before applying for the scholarship.
  • Students have to maintain 30 credit hours a semester and can lose the “free” deal if they drop out or fail out.
  • An unspecified GPA must be maintained — one that would indicate the student is on the path to finish the degree.
    Illegal aliens are not eligible.

What’s not included in the “free” deal?

Expenses.  Student will have to pay their own fees and pay for supplies like books.

CUNY fees are around an average of $475-$500. If one needs a room, expect to pay over $10,300 and another $3,280 or so for food.

Currently, fees of $1,590 annually are what SUNY schools charge. Room and board was $12,590 in 2016-17. Factor in book costs at anywhere from $800 to $1,000.

Fun footnote: Neither SUNY nor CUNY will be expected to pick up any of the costs for the Excelsior Scholarship for the first four years.  Nope, that bill is on the NY taxpayer.

A Word of Caution to North Carolina

North Carolina’s new Governor, Roy Cooper, has been traveling around the state pushing his higher education concept called, “NC Grow.” Packed into this idea is “free” community college.

From the Governor’s March 21st, 2017 press release, emphasis added:

Governor Roy Cooper today highlighted his proposed NC GROW (Getting Ready for Opportunities in the Workforce) Scholarship to help make North Carolina a Top 10 Educated state by 2025. Starting next year, good students who graduated high school with a 2.0 GPA or higher would get free tuition to any NC community college through the NC GROW scholarship. NC GROW would cover last-dollar tuition and fees for students who have used up other financial aid options.

Not only is Cooper proposing to cover tuition, but fees as well.

How will the Governor be financing this ‘scholarship’?

The press release doesn’t say and neither does the included link to a one-pager on NC Grow. One doesn’t have to be a money expert to figure out that the taxpayers are going to be stuck with the bill.

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