A last minute budget negotiation late Friday pretty much ensures that New York will be the first state to offer 'tuition-free' public higher education to its entitled snowflakes. The $163 billion state budget agreement includes the Excelsior Scholarship, which covers tuition for any New Yorker accepted to one of the state’s community colleges or four-year universities, provided their family earns less than $125,000 a year.
Of course, for politicians, 'free' is just a nice way of saying they're about to jam more taxes down the throats of working Americans to cover the cost of services they may or may not use personally.
The scholarship program will be phased in over three years, beginning for New Yorkers making up to $100,000 annually in the fall of 2017, increasing to $110,000 in 2018, and reaching $125,000 in 2019. Nearly 1 million families will qualify for the scholarship.
It is a last-dollar program, meaning the state would cover any tuition left over after factoring in federal Pell Grants and New York’s Tuition Assistance Program. Students must be enrolled in college full time and take at least 30 course credits a year, though those facing hardships can pause and restart the program or take fewer credits.
As the Washington Post points out, the program is expected to cost New York taxpayers $163 million in its first year and, like all other entitlements, will only grow over time.
Proposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in January, the scholarship taps into one of the Democratic Party’s most popular ideas and advances a bipartisan movement to lower the cost of college that is taking shape across the country.
“Today, college is what high school was — it should always be an option even if you can’t afford it,” Cuomo said in a statement Saturday. “With this program, every child will have the opportunity that education provides.”
Not much changed from the initial proposal, including the $163 million estimated cost for the first year of the program, though there were concessions to win over lawmakers. Award recipients attending community college now have to remain in New York for two years after graduation, while those at state universities must stay for four years. Private universities, whose leaders said the plan would undermine their schools, will see an increase in state tuition assistance funding.
Of course, the irony of the situation is that, like many misinformed liberal entitlement programs, throwing more money at U.S. universities only serves to exacerbate the underlying problem of bloated, out-of-control college budgets. But, on the bright side, America's snowflakes will have yet another pool of money on which they can rely to fund their hedonistic, binge-drinking filled spring break trips to Cancun.