Like with anything free, the devil is in the fine print!
New York made news this week when the state announced it was offering universal public college tuition for its working and middle class residents. Their Excelsior Scholarship Program is expected to make its full rollout over the next three years and subsidize tuition for students from families making less than $125,000/year by 2019! This of course pushed multiple headlines to proclaim that New York was offering “free college tuition for all students!”
However, is that really the case?
Let’s try and see where the truth really lies in this installment of True, False, or Tralse!
Just the Facts
What makes New York’s Excelsior Scholarship Program different from other scholarship programs is that there are no other requirements for being accepted into the program other than you being a New York resident and your family being under the proposed income bracket. Because of that, the Excelsior Scholarship undoubtedly is much broader than most other state sponsored scholarship programs, but there are still other factors that have to be considered.
For example, there are two main points that stick out in regards to what students have to do in continuing to receive money for their college education.
- Average 30 credits-a-year, essentially making them a full-time student.
After they graduate, they would have to live and work in New York for the same number of years they were under scholarship.
Now combine that with the hefty asterisk of the Excelsior Scholarship being a “Last Dollar Program” – governmental programs that only cover a specific cost and not cover the additional resources that usually arise – and suddenly, New York’s scholarship doesn’t look as promising as it did at first glance.
As you may have guessed, many policy experts are criticizing the Excelsior Scholarship for neglecting those that free college tuition programs should help the most; low income students.
Take a single mother, with a low wage job, for example. If this individual wanted to enroll in college and take advantage of the Excelsior Scholarship, they wouldn’t be able to due to the scholarship’s steep requirements. Provisions such as being a full-time student (many low-income students are part-time students to help curb the cost of higher education) and not helping with ancillary costs that come with attending college (room-and-board, purchasing books, ect) almost make the Excelsior Scholarship not an option for certain faction of students.
The Excelsior Scholarship is a big boon to middle-class families that makes less than $125,000, yet for lower-income families, there are just too many stipulations that make it possible for them to take advantage of it. While for many, it does provide a free college education, there are just too many individuals out there that can’t take advantage of the offer. Because of that, the statement that New York is providing college tuition to everyone isn’t completely true.
So in regards to the state of New York providing free college education, we have to say…
(Photo Credit: Pixabay.com, ChalkBeat.org)