New York makes college tuition free In this Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, file photo, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a cabinet meeting in the Red Room at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File/AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)
New York makes college tuition free
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There's a big string attached to New York's free middle-class college tuition initiative: Students must stay in the state after graduation or else pay back the benefit.
 
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the requirement was added to protect the state's investment in a student's education by ensuring they don't take advantage of free tuition and then leave New York. The rule wasn't a part of Cuomo's free college tuition proposal when he unveiled it in January but was inserted during final negotiations with lawmakers over the state budget.
 
The tuition initiative, which Cuomo said is a national model, covers state college or university tuition for in-state students from families earning $125,000 or less. Students must remain in New York for as many years as they received the benefit. They must repay the money as a loan if they take a job in another state.
 
"Why should New Yorkers pay for your college education and then you pick up and you move to California?" Cuomo said during a call with state editorial writers. "The concept of investing in you and your education is that you're going to stay here and be an asset to the state. If you don't want to stay here, then go to California now, let them pay for your college education."
 
Students at University at Albany, part of the state university system, aren't so sure.
 
"I don't know how much I like feeling confined, even to staying in the state for four more years," said Bobby Rickard, an 18-year-old freshman from Brewster who has not yet decided his major. "I don't know what life will have for me."
 
Cumorah Reed, a 19-year-old English major, said certain technology jobs are concentrated on the West Coast and many of her classmates will be surprised to learn they will not be able to apply for those positions immediately after graduation.
 
"I think it's going to be harder than people think," Reed said.
 
Ashley Mendez, 18, a journalism and communications major, said the proposal is a fair compromise because many residents will stay anyway.
 
"I'm a New Yorker. I wouldn't leave the state for anything," Mendez said.
 
Sara Goldrick-Rab, a Temple University professor who studies college affordability, said the requirement undercuts the promise of free tuition and could deliver a nasty shock to students who fail to read the fine print, or who take the money believing they will stay in New York, only to find better job opportunities elsewhere.
 
"It's absolutely bait and switch," she said. "You entice people with something they really, really need and then you penalize them if they can't find a decent job and have to leave."
 
Republican lawmakers pushed for the requirement during closed-door state budget negotiations.
 
"We took the governor's original plan and made it better, by requiring students to maintain a certain GPA and to live and work in New York after they graduate," said Scott Reif, a spokesman for the Senate's Republican leadership.
 
Students who receive free tuition and then leave the state for an advanced degree won't have to pay the money back assuming they return to New York once they complete their graduate studies. State officials also plan to make accommodations for graduates who leave the state for military service.
 
As part of the budget, lawmakers also approved a new tuition assistance program for students at private colleges and universities that offers up to $3,000 in tuition grants. That assistance also comes with a requirement that a student remain in New York after graduation for the same number of years they received the benefit.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What if college were free in all 50 states?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (16)
  • piersonw-cel
    4/19/2017 - 10:33 a.m.

    If college were free in all 50 states students would have freedom to decide which college or university they want to go to, no matter what state it's in. They won't be restricted to just the ones in the state that they live in.

  • emmah11-har
    4/20/2017 - 07:45 a.m.

    If college were free in all 50 states, there would be fewer families in debt. In college, most students cannot afford to pay for college all at once, so they take loans to pay. These loans leave most families in debt for most of their lives. If college were free, this debt would have never happened.

  • annakatep-cel
    4/24/2017 - 11:04 a.m.

    I do not agree with this law. In my opinion no one should have the right to tell you where you can and cannot live. Its completely unfair. If you go through college and get your degree no matter if it was paid for by the state or not you should be able to go where you want to and work where you want to without someone penalizing you for it.

  • irisp-ste
    5/01/2017 - 11:01 a.m.

    It looks like Bernie Sanders' wild dreams may come true. If New York has now made college tuition free of charge, I am guessing that more and more progressive states will pass similar legislation. I think this is a great idea, but it will be interesting to see how it actually rolls out.

  • emilyb2-bur
    5/01/2017 - 12:54 p.m.

    If college were free in all 50 states then everyone would chose what college they want to go to no matter how much it is.The college would probably still want to have recommendations from the students and know how smart they are. You would still have to study and have knowledge in your brain. In my opinion people should get college for free if they really deserve it . Some people don't deserve to get free college but if it were free it would help a lot of people out.

  • keasiak-bur
    5/01/2017 - 12:57 p.m.

    If college was free in all 50 states we would pretty much be able to attend any college in the US.To me this would be beneficial because it is easy since college is so expensive Then a lot of people wouldn't be in debt or have student loans.

  • kaileew-ste
    5/01/2017 - 01:51 p.m.

    A very big issue right now is college tuition. Now, New York has made it free. However, students must stay in New York after graduation in order for this to happen.

  • jacob13-war
    5/02/2017 - 12:06 p.m.

    If college was free in all 50 states it'd make it a lot easier to find jobs when you leave your college. Being able to find jobs in other states would also focus on making the entire country better and not just your home state.

  • connor2-war
    5/02/2017 - 12:08 p.m.

    I guess It is neat that the US is making it so if u don't move you get free education. I find it kind of bad too though because there is some people who want to move out of the US but if they do they don't get a free education.

  • keasiak-bur
    5/02/2017 - 09:04 p.m.

    If college were free in all 50 states people would be able to attend better colleges. I believe that this would be beneficial because people would have a better variety and would be able to achieve a better education.

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