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Rarebear's avatar

What is your opinion on "free college" that is being offered by New York State?

Asked by Rarebear (25144points) April 18th, 2017

The terms of the “free” college is a bit complicated, but basically if you’re a New York student and make less than a certain amount your tuition will be partly or fully paid for by the state. Are you in favor of it?

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13 Answers

Patty_Melt's avatar

I’m for it, nationwide, if certain minimum standards are met by those students.

stanleybmanly's avatar

As with primary and secondary education, it should be obvious that the society benefits through investing in its people. The insane reality of a college education in the United States is that the process now amounts to a scheme enriching
bankers through saddling folks with crippling debt.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Not all it’s cracked up to be. Not bad if you don’t mind staying in NY for a couple years after graduation.

Politically appealing, yes. Not sure it’s that great in practice.

The proposed rules have lots of fine print Example and example2

and the fine print places all sorts of constraints and rules on the offer. I suppose that’s OK, because if you follow the rules, it is free. But it also ties you down in multiple ways for multiple years.

So for some people, it may be great. But based on my reading, it’s the fine print, terms and conditions that are the killers.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I believe that it might make things worse , unless there is a tuition freeze universities might take advantage of the taxpayer . I prefer updating the local library with 2017 current textbooks and instructional videos . My local library doesn’t scream acedemia, and has mostly outdated textbooks if any. Personally free education sounds great . Maybe they could do it as an experiment to see how it works.

zenvelo's avatar

I am in favor of it. Since it is for public institutions, the budgets are under the control of the State of NY already, so @RedDeerGuy1‘s suspicion is not founded.

I grew up when the cost of the University of California was a minimal amount(<$750 per year), and California recognized the benefit of public education.

I like the commitment to staying in NY. It is like friends of mine who had medical and law schools paid for by the Armed Services in exchange for 5 years service.

funkdaddy's avatar

It’s a good first step. I don’t think the residency requirement is really all that constraining and wouldn’t be needed if the program was nationwide.

There are already similar offers from many programs in underserved areas, doctors can have their loans forgiven by working in a rural area, teachers can have their loans forgiven for a certain number of years teaching, and public/non-profit workers can have their balance forgiven after a number of years/payments.

I hope it goes well, because all the other states will be watching the effect on budgets and attendance.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Does the student or their parents make less than a certain amount? As an adult when I went back to college I qualified for a Pell grant. I basically got my BA degree for free.

Rarebear's avatar

And here is an economic conservative point of view. I am sympathetic, although not convinced

funkdaddy's avatar

@Rarebear – Some good reasons, but also some head scratchers. Maybe worth a discussion here?

First, the law is regressive. It does nothing to help students from families earning less than $50,000 a year. Their tuition is already covered by other programs.

How does this make it regressive? I’m assuming regressive in the same sense as taxes are sometimes referred to. But $0 of $50k is the same percentage as $0 of $100k. (high school taught me that, Science Academy baby!) Families making $75k/year and putting two kids through college are only doing so on loans in the majority of cases.

Second, it doesn’t make a dent in reducing the nontuition fees, like living expenses, textbooks and travel

Is it really feasible for “free” to ever mean not paying for books, board, and travel? Would the state pay the vendors directly? Does everyone live in dorms? Are they handing out a monthly stipend? Travel? Really?

Third, it doesn’t cover students who don’t go to school full time and don’t complete in four years. In 2017 this is the vast, vast majority of all students, especially poorer students.

Free for four years still sounds like a pretty sweet deal. I wonder if the alternative here would just be 5 years or an unlimited number?

I’m interested in people’s reaction to point #2 combined with point #3. 5+ years of subsidizing all living expenses of intelligent, capable, adults who are increasing their earnings wouldn’t be my first choice for public help. Affordable college is good, and can change lives, but why would anyone ever leave if everything is paid for?

Fourth, it demotivates students. Research has shown that students who have to work to pay some college costs, even if only small expenses, are more spurred to work hard and graduate.

This seems counter to the previous arguments. I wish some alternatives were presented.

Fifth, Cuomo’s law threatens to destroy some of New York’s private colleges.

Again, no alternative presented. Should college be expensive to keep private colleges in business? I don’t think so.

Sixth, the law may widen the gap between rich and poor. When state schools are “free,” more people will apply. As more apply, selectivity will increase.

Are we saying an affordable college education is now the cause of the widening earnings gap? So starting adult life with a $100k loan is preferable? How about offering education alternatives to college, not everyone is going to get a 4-year degree (or beyond), that’s ok, teach other skills because those can lead to a really great career as well and are in demand for the foreseeable future.

_Seventh, over the long term the law could hurt the quality of New York’s state system. Right now those schools rely on tuition to help fund programs. If New York moves more toward a purely publicly funded model, it may suffer from the slow decay that has hurt many state systems. _

This seems like the best argument that has been made. State systems tend to slowly devolve into poor alternatives to private systems and colleges have long been able to resist that trend. Public schools have largely relied on their communities to do the same, when possible. Maybe that’s a better alternative for colleges as well. Alumni and local communities are both great assets for colleges that are good neighbors. Perhaps instead of $100k in debt, we move towards supporting our colleges financially as we’re able to later in life? Many already do, but making that a larger part of these programs might make the connection more obvious.



What do you think of just “cheap” state college instead?

What if any state school could be attended for say $1,000 a semester? Or $1250 for the psychological effect of a $10,000 4-year degree plan vs. a $12,500 5-year. It seems it would take away many of the issues mentioned in the article.

I don’t know how prevalent it is, and it has other problems, but anyone who graduated in the top 10% of their high school class (or 25% with certain test scores) will be accepted to any state school here in Texas. (link)

It seems that coupled with affordable tuition, college alternatives, and engaging communities would go a long way.

JLeslie's avatar

I have mixed feelings, but mostly I support it. My dad and many of his closest friends went to college for free in NYC. I think that program was a huge success. The education was very good and well respected, and my dad and his friends were extremely poor, and free tuition was a saving grace to educated these very smart and capable young people at the time. The teens who went to college in this program were string in academics, very capable. They had to apply to the college, and the school only took the top people. It wasn’t simply accepting all who lived in NYC.

People you know were educated in this college system. People like Colin Powell, Ralph Lauren, Ira Gershwin, many Nobel laureates. Too many to name.

I do think the state needs to oversee the costs and tuition prices, because the schools in general across the nation seem out of control. Government money in this day and age can make this worse, if not monitored.

Owing time back makes some sense to me. We do this very thing with our military doctors. This was done for nurses in the private sector, or was anyway, in some states.

It’s a way to recoup the tax money the state put out. The person earns a good living after graduation, and pays taxes back into the state.

The students have to perform well academically for me to get behind it. They can’t be just pushing through students who really aren’t college material.

gorillapaws's avatar

I think it should be free for everyone (preschool too). You will have more competition for enrollment which results in the smartest/hardest working kids getting the opportunities. This is a merit based system. The biggest losers will be the children of wealthy kids who are mediocre in school because they won’t get accepted (but otherwise would have with less competition). Currently our system gives them opportunities over some smarter/harder working kids who can’t afford college. That’s bad for society because the American dream is predicated on equality of opportunity and hard work. Free college tuition at public universities would address this.

Having the best/brightest/hardest working succeed will only help our economy in the long run.

LazyMe10's avatar

I would probably qualify…if I was a New Yorker.
I’m happy they have it but a tad jealous. Honestly wish my state did that…then I could go to the college I want. An have a little stress free from the burden of costs…

Dutchess_III's avatar

Have you tried a Pell grant @LazyMe10?

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