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Did Someone Say Free Tuition – Reactions From Current Students

The price of college has always been a major issue in our society. Sometimes, it’s been the determining factor on whether someone pursues an education after college.

Last week on April 11th, Governor Cuomo passed a program called the Excelsior Scholarship. This program will cover tuition for in-state public universities for households making under $100,000 a year. That means New York has become the first state to offer free college tuition.

How many people do you know who either didn’t go or dropped out of college due to the fact they couldn’t afford it? Well, those people’s problems might just be solved with this new program.

Like any bill, or program in this case, that a government official passes will have people who are for it and people who oppose it. The passing of it has caused many conversations among students around NY campuses as well as people on social media.

“I think there’s pros and cons, but overall it’s great because it will encourage more young people to go to college,” Tiffany Manley, student at SUNY Albany said. “Even though tuition is free, there are still small fees that may add up to expensive costs that people may need help paying. But overall, free tuition is a start towards a more educated community.”

At first, I wasn’t able to see the pros of this program’s passage. I believed the upside of it wasn’t enough to overlook the downside of it – a part of me still does. But, now I can see the pros and cons of this program. It just depends on who you are to determine what side of the spectrum you fall on.

The pros of it is this program is going to make college more accessible to low and middle-income families. Making access more affordable might make people who never thought about college consider going.

In my eyes, the cons in this program are only in relation to students who live on campuses. The Excelsior Scholarship does not cover room and board – which in a lot of cases are the bulk of the costs you have to pay. So, the program doesn’t really help those students.

However, if you’re someone who commutes this program might just work for you – especially if you plan on staying in NY for a couple years upon graduation which the program requires.

Students at NY colleges had this to say:

“The idea is cool but the law/budget itself has a lot of contingencies that many people don’t know about. It’s not going to work for everybody,” Ashanti Dunn, student at SUNY Albany said. “So, the government made an effort… it was a cute gesture but at the same time ISSA DUB. People will soon realize that.”

“I personally believe that education should be free. Sometimes, I think of college as a scam because I think the government uses it to get money out of you. It’s great for people who can’t afford to go to college. Maybe more people will be inspired to go,” Julissa Saint Phar, student at SUNY Canton said.

“I don’t care because I’m not getting it. But for others it’s great because more people can go to school,” Terrence Thomas, student at SUNY Buffalo.

“Honestly, it feels too good to be true but I’m going to try to get that free tuition. My only concern is, are they paying for everything? For example, are we getting money for books separately,” Alisha Erase, student at York College said. “I know there are more than half of NYC families that make under $100,000 a year. Are they all getting free tuition.”

I think this is a step in the right direction. What I would love to see next is free college period. Your move Governor Cuomo.

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About Shekera Clarke

My name is Shekera Clarke. I am currently a senior at the University at Albany majoring in journalism with a business minor. I grew up in Queens, NY. QGTM! My goals upon graduating include either writing for a pop culture magazine/blog or work for ESPN because of my love for sports - whether that's behind the scenes or on air.

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