Millions of New York families will now be getting free tuition. The New York State Senate passed a tuition-free college program on Monday, proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) earlier this year.
Under the law, those in the annual income brackets of $100,000 or below in 2017 will be able to attend a state or city college for free. Illegals will be unable to take advantage of the initiative. The plan will also keep up with inflation: the income brackets will rise to $110,000 in 2018 and $125,000 in 2019. The program will not pay for textbooks and housing, and students will be required to maintain a minimum grade-point average to be eligible for free tuition.
There is a caveat to the legislation: you must live and work in the state for as many years as you receive funding. If you move out of the state and work elsewhere, then you will be required to refund the state.
Once you receive taxpayer funds to attend college, then you are chained to The Empire State.
State Republicans added the provision, arguing that too many students leave the state after receiving financial assistance. GOP members referred to the trend as a “brain-drain problem.” Gov. Cuomo agreed with the provision, the New York Daily News reports:
Why should New Yorkers pay for your college education and then you pick up and you move to California? 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.
Not everyone was happy with the Republican addition to the legislation.
Temple University Professor Sara Goldrick-Rab slammed the move in a tweet:
According to his bill,@NYGovCuomo rather keep an unemployed college grad in state & on public benefits rather than letting them work in NJ
— Sara Goldrick-Rab (@saragoldrickrab) April 11, 2017
Like everything else the government touches, there are other issues to consider with this legislation.
The program is slated to cost $163 million in its first year, which means taxpayers will bear the burden for a long time. Since the state already allocates approximately $1 billion of its budget to college financial assistance, this is an entitlement fund that will only cost taxpayers more money in the future.
One of the reasons why the endeavor will come with a bigger price-tag down the line is because the cost of tuition will be higher. As the state government waves the free tuition flag in the faces of young people, the demand will inevitably increase, causing prices to rise. The situation also leads to a higher demand for useless degrees without any considerable job prospects, such as gender studies, medieval poetry or psychology, because it is “free.”
There will be other unintended consequences, too. With a growing demand from free tuition, class sizes will be overwhelming, creating horrendous environments for lectures. They will soon become overcrowded and inefficient.
Thanks to higher tuition fees and a guaranteed stream of revenue, colleges will continue to be wasteful on unnecessary amenities. All over the U.S., these hubs of higher learning have installed questionable facilities, like opulent fitness centers and rock-climbing walls. There is one area that will likely be eliminated: flexibility in majors due to the volume of students.
The governor’s well-intentioned initiative will also impact the marketplace. Free colleges will be unable to compete and will eventually shut their doors. Why would students pay for a more expensive private college when they can attend a public college for free? Akin to student loans, free tuition distorts the higher education market.
Every time the government intervenes into education, costs soar, and quality diminishes – just take a look at the public school system.
But New York’s tuition-free college package has garnered the support from several top Democrats, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). With their support of the program, you know it is a bad policy.