NY Gov. wants to cover state university tuition for families earning up to $125K

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to offer free tuition at state universities to students from families earning up to $125,00 a year, reports the New York Times. Community colleges also would be tuition free.

The “Excelsior Scholarship” would cover any tuition payments not already covered by existing state and federal grants. The estimated cost is $163 million, though that’s a very fuzzy estimate, on top of $1 billion now offered in state tuition aid.

Yes, Cuomo is being mentioned as a possible Democratic presidential candidate in 2020. He invited Bernie Sanders, who ran on the “free college” idea, to his press conference.

State colleges shouldn’t be free, writes Reason‘s Nick Gillespie a SUNY-Buffalo grad.

Cuomo’s plan, billed as helping “the middle class,” covers students from families earning more than double the median income in New York, writes Gillespie. “If you’re in a household making $124,000 a year, you’re in the top 16 percent of households.”

The sons and daughters of more-educated, more-remunerated folks are more likely to go to college in the first place and a lot more likely to graduate in four or six years.

. . . it would be far better to narrow the focus of the program to, say, students coming from the bottom 20 percent of households by income and giving them the sorts of support (intellectual and social) that might help them make it all the way through. As it stands, only about 20 percent of students from the bottom fifth of households have a college degree by age 24. That’s the same rate as in 1970. (And of course, educational reform should start at the K-12 level first and foremost, by making charter schools and vouchers more widely available to the students who would gain the most from them.)

He also argues that all college students should have “skin in the game.”

A college diploma raises average lifetime earnings by between $250,000 and $1 million (depending on many factors and assumptions) and it makes sense to ask the person who will cash that premium to pay for at least some part of it, doesn’t it?

If that dissuades the not-very-motivated from going to college, it’s “a good thing,” concludes Gillespie.

This post originally appeared at joannejacobs.com

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Joanne Jacobs

Joanne Jacobs

Joanne was born in Chicago and named after her grandfather, Joe Jacobs, who’d been a police reporter for the Omaha Bee-News. At the age of eight, she and her best friend became the creators and co-editors-in-chief of "The Wednesday Report" for four years. After years as a San Jose Mercury News columnist, Joanne started an education blog in 2001 and wrote "Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the Charter School That Beat the Odds." She freelances for online sites, newspapers, magazines, foundations and think tanks. In addition to blogging at joannejacobs.com, Joanne writes Community College Spotlight at ccspotlight.org.

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