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NY Governor’s Office Responds to Our Criticisms of New ‘Free’ Tuition

NY Governor’s Office Responds to Our Criticisms of New ‘Free’ Tuition

“Contrary to what some critics are saying, the program is also flexible.”

Earlier this week, I blogged about New York’s ‘free’ college tuition initiative. Not only is there no such thing as a free lunch, there’s definitely no such thing as a free government offering as The Excelsior Scholarship illustrates.

Among the many strings attached to the tuition program, one of the most unrealistic is the requirement that tuition recipients serve state work time after graduation. Those finishing a two-year degree would be required to remain in New York for two years post-college while bachelor degree holders would be required to stay in the Empire State (presumably working) for four years. Leave before the state-mandated time and the scholarship turns into a loan that must be paid back.

New York’s Director of the Division of Budget in the Governor’s office read our post and offered an alternative explanation to the unworkable (as I called it) tuition program. For debate’s sake, we’ve posted his response in full beneath.

To the Editor:

Even to the uniformed, requiring students to complete their college degrees on-time shouldn’t seem like a stretch. But alas, many don’t know that New York’s current college graduation rates, while similar to those nationwide, are abysmal at 9 percent at community colleges and approximately 40 percent at four-year schools.

Here’s a little common sense: The more time students spend in school, the more debt they incur and the less likely they become to complete their degrees at all.

The first-in-the-nation Excelsior Scholarship program is designed to change that behavior and encourage students to complete college within two to four years, so we can move our best-educated students into the workforce to fill the high-paying jobs of tomorrow.

Moreover, this $163 million program is a major investment in New York’s future. By ensuring these highly-qualified students live and work in-state for the number of years they receive the scholarship, we are guaranteeing this investment pays dividends right here at home.

Additionally, many scholarships today already require post-graduate residency in New York State. The STEM Incentive Program and the Master’s in Education Teacher Incentive Scholarship requires students to live and work in New York for at least five years upon graduation.

Contrary to what some critics are saying, the program is also flexible. Students are allowed to attend graduate programs, law school, fellowships or complete military service out of state and return years later. Extenuating circumstances will also be evaluated on a case by case basis as the program’s aim is to maximize the benefit to New Yorkers and move the Empire State’s economy forward.

The bottom line: The Excelsior Scholarship is a game-changing investment in New York’s students and the future of our state that will provide a gateway to higher education and a shot in the arm to our economy. It’s a win-win that must be celebrated.

Robert Mujica
NYS Director of the Division of Budget
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

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Florida has, for many years, had a Bright Futures scholarship, paid for by Lotto revenue. It has modestly high requirements for high school achievement. Not beyond the reach of anyone who is capable of completing college.

Since it is paid for by non-tax revenue, there is not great burden on anyone except people who waste their money on lottery.

    Shane in reply to Petrushka. | April 13, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Why is the government in the business of gambling? Shockingly, the government has a monopoly on gambling and then decides what percentage and to whom the money will go. Because you agree with what some of the money is spent on doesn’t make it right. Money isn’t free … EVER.

      healthguyfsu in reply to Shane. | April 13, 2017 at 3:53 pm

      It gets worse.

      In the state of Virginia, they were able to ram through a state lottery by promising that the proceeds would go to education in the state.

      The proceeds go to education all right…the state politicians cut the previous budget line to education by the exact amount that the lottery proceeds added thus making a net zero for education and a new pool of monopoly money for the cronies.

    No offense, but when the Florida Lottery was established and put into the Florida Constitution, it was supposed to supplement the funds for public schools.

    Instead, the money went to public schools and the underpinning funding was cut and sent elsewhere.

    The Bright Futures scholarships are supposedly funded with the lottery money, but that money was never designated for college education to begin with.

    The “money from Florida Lottery” idea is great, but in real life, the money acts as another funding source for other projects and should not be emulated or celebrated.

      Shane in reply to gitarcarver. | April 13, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      And that right there in a nutshell is why the government should not be involved in the economy … EVER. Everything that the government touches turns political and then becomes a siphon for tax dollars no matter how grandiose the reason is for having the government intervene. Real life example is public schools. Great idea to help people and educate the society, will NEVER work as long as the government touches any part of it.

    artichoke in reply to Petrushka. | April 19, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    NY has a lottery too. If we were to say now that the proceeds of the NY Lottery would go to fund Excelsior Scholarships, then wherever the money is going now would get that much less.

    Saying “the lottery funds education” is a gambit every state uses. It just means the money that would have gone to education now funds something else.

Sooo what he is saying that there is no requirement to stay in the state. Which makes this look more like a handout. I guess the government is going to find out what people think of free things.

    4fun in reply to Shane. | April 13, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    out of state and return years later.

    No, they covered it. Return years later. Depending on how it’s written, you could return at age 90 probably but if you died I’ll bet they have a legal way of getting it from your estate.
    NY can go eff themselves.

The inconvenient truth, that they hope to ignore, is that affordable may cost (e.g. capital, labor) less than “free”.

This guy is a fascist monster. The further we keep him from power, the safer we are:

Cuomo: Pro-life conservatives ‘have no place’ in New York:

StandingAthwartHistory | April 13, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Most politicians are ignorant, willfully or otherwise, of economics. As stated by Henry Hazlitt, “the whole of economics can be reduced to a single lesson, and that lesson can be reduced to a single sentence. The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”

I’m fine with the requirement to finish on time and even to remain in the state after graduation. However, I have no confidence that the state will enforce the requirements—the 9 and 40 percent graduation rates will not rise and NY taxpayers will remain on the hook.

    healthguyfsu in reply to MTED. | April 13, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    See my post below…they will make someone comply, and I’ve seen it happen in the industry.

Here’s a little common sense: The more time students spend in school, the more debt they incur and the less likely they become to complete their degrees at all.

Here’s even more common sense—or rather, logic and arithmetic; change New York schools into one-year degree-granting institutions. Think of the cost savings! And there’s so much less opportunity to drop out!

The reducto ad absurdum seems an appropriate modus vivendi for a place like New York.

healthguyfsu | April 13, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Two things:

One, making it so students “have” to finish on time is only going to put more pressure on faculty to push the unqualified through their classes, much like the public school K-12 system does. There’s already pressure to raise 4 year grad rate at most schools since it is factored in to those doctored US news rankings. This new push on the system will make higher education in the state worth even less than it’s already diminishing value.

Two, New Yorkers always exude the arrogance of being the smartest person in the room, by way of either birthright or residence, I’m “shocked” to learn they are about average in education.

Pelosi Schmelosi | April 13, 2017 at 3:50 pm

How many examples does it take before these idiots realize that “govt subsidy” of something just leads to higher costs?
Truly ignorant people are running this country into the ground just to get votes.

    This is because We the People have allowed “getting votes” to become the be-all and end-all of politics.

    It’s no longer about leadership, vision, accomplishment, innovation, justice, etc., and hasn’t been for quite some time. It’s all about getting elected and suckling the taxpayer teat staying in office as long as possible.

    This is why we have a class of professional politicians, whose only accomplishment in life is to be elected. None of it would happen if the voters didn’t allow it.

    While many of them have figured out that ‘free’ means more cost to the tax payers, most of them don’t think they’ll be the taxpayers funding that ‘free’ education. Remember, only the ‘rich’ will be taxed. Or something.

Is it just me or does the work in state requirement sound a lot like indentured servitude?

    tkc882 in reply to tkc882. | April 13, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Debt bondage, also known as debt slavery or bonded labour, is a person’s pledge of labour or services as security for the repayment for a debt or other obligation.

      The real question is: will they bring back “debtors’ prison” for those who can’t/won’t hold a job or who try to leave the state early?

    DINORightMarie in reply to tkc882. | April 13, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    Yes – if you go back to the original blog post, that was what she “lined out” to show that it is, indeed, the same thing.

    healthguyfsu in reply to tkc882. | April 14, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    It is but there is nothing wrong with that when applied in the right ways. For example, many states and branches of the military have agreements that can be signed for doctors or nurses to have tuition paid in exchange for years of service after grad in that state or branch. These are high quality students entering high demand professions with as close to a guarantee of employment that you can get.

    The unique problem with this agreement is that these students are unspecialized and may going into infertile, low demand majors that bring nothing to the economy. They are also less selected for because it is much easier to get into college than a professional school. In fact, 4 year colleges routinely up their acceptance rates to keep enrollment going at the expected level of tuition revenue. Professional medical schools don’t have this problem.

Western New York has had a ‘brain drain’ problem for decades. Bright students come here to our world class Universities only to immediately leave after graduation. In this case, ‘leaving’ means going to better-paying positions in other cities (say, New York City) or States with lower tax rates (there are 48 States with lower taxes than New York).

A ‘free tuition’ school accomplishes nothing, except to permit free loaders to boogy to someplace else after graduation. It would be nice if some sort of accommodation could be reached where new graduates receive a lower tax rate if they stay in Western New York. But that’s too much like common sense and reduces the baksheesh going into the Gov’s pockets.

    Petrushka in reply to SeniorD. | April 13, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    I got a couple years of GI Bill. Why not work first, school second. Or even both at the same time? Lots of kids worked at my college. I worked for the college in the summers.

    I guarantee that after a couple of years working, people take school more seriously, and have a much better idea of what it is they want to do.

As is typical for progressive hacks, he does not address at all the bigger issue of the outrageous college tuition costs because doing so would put him at odds with other progressive hacks called “professor” and “college President”. We would not have a student debt problem if students had cheaper college.

    healthguyfsu in reply to iambasic. | April 14, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Yep exactly and the outrageous expenses are not going to faculty salaries or areas that would really improve education quality.

    Instead, the money is directed towards administrative bloat and outrageous recruiting schemes like LSU’s lazy river or a state of the art student playground (aka the union). This is what happens when you have a recruiting arms race without the check and balance of real market forces.

Reaction: 9 percent graduation at community colleges is not necessarily bad. A great number of people take classes at CC just to pick up a course or a skill they need. Depending on how the state structures their education, it may actually make sense for the vast majority of attendees to take only the practical courses they need for the jobs they want and bail instead of having to sit through (and pay for) courses that have no bearing on their future employment.

40 percent graduation rate at four-year institutions… Yeah, that’s bad. Particularly if you subtract the foreign students and the out-of-state students who most likely have a much higher graduation rate.

    artichoke in reply to georgfelis. | April 19, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    Some students “fail” to graduate from CC because the transfer to a 4 year school. Nobody really cares about the AS degree, it’s the bachelor’s that is the goal.

    Also, CC is open admission to anyone with a high school diploma. They get a lot of problem cases. A low graduation rate means there are some standards in place.

As a New Yorker, I had no idea the graduation rate was so bad. Exactly what are the taxpayers spending their money on, if not to produce college graduates?

Real reason for program:
Please, vote for me!! Please!! I’ll send your kids to college for free, and I’ll prevent them from moving away after graduation! Please!

DINORightMarie | April 13, 2017 at 6:59 pm

Has anyone done the simple arithmetic for this?

On average, right now, a bachelor’s degree at a public university is about $100,000 (approx $25k per year, for 4 years). The “program” is for $163 million.

Divide $163 million by $100,000. That is a whopping 1,630 students!

Granted, this is for 2-year community colleges also, not just 4-year bachelor’s degree students. So, if you factor that in, there would be more students helped.

But, how many students in New York are attending college every year – I can assure you it’s MORE than 1,630 students!!

Does this cover private colleges? Is that $163 million per year? Is this REALLY going to help ANYONE?!

The math shows that this program is untenable. At best.

Lord, help us, and save us from altruistic bureaucrats who have NO IDEA how the real world works, or how their “help” hurts the citizenry in the long-term!!

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to DINORightMarie. | April 13, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    But the college administrators can keep giving themselves fat-cat pay raises with this.

    A study revealed that for about the last 30 years every penny of increased funding of education had been eaten up by administrative salaries and expenses.

2nd Ammendment Mother | April 13, 2017 at 7:11 pm

So, Texas actually has a slighty similar plan…. It’s the Texas B On Time Loan Program. It clearly states up front, it is a loan first and foremost. No illusions the money is free and the rules are spelled our very short and sweet.

“Simply put, the Texas B-On-Time (BOT) Loan Program
provides zero-interest loans (BOT loans) to Texas
residents attending 4-year colleges in Texas.
Designed to encourage students to finish school on
time while meeting high standards, the loan can be
forgiven if students meet certain requirements.”

The requirements are spelled out and must be met EVERY SEMESTER and you must reapply EVERY SEMESTER.

I see that we have learned nothing from the catastrophe that is third payer healthcare.

Whenever there is a guaranteed third party payer in any industry, the cost of that industry’s product increases, excessively. That is what happened in the post-secondary education market. Since 1975, college tuition costs have increased at a rate of 5-6% ABOVE the rate of inflation. From 1982 to 2008, college tuition went up 439%, while wages went up 147%. Tuition costs jumped 14% in 2003 alone. One reason for this is public Financial Aid programs. Just as health insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid, made it possible for service providers to charge excessive amounts and still have a strong customer base, due to guaranteed third party payers, the same is true in higher education. What is happening in higher education today, just as it is happening in healthcare insurance, is that people can not afford to pay for the guaranteed coverage. Student loan debt is now becoming crippling. The best way to make a college education affordable is to get the third party payer out of the picture. Hardship scholarships and grants are one thing. But letting everyone borrow money from the government, for a college education, only encourages colleges and universities to overcharged their students. Throwing MORE public money at the problem only makes it worse.

    DINORightMarie in reply to Mac45. | April 14, 2017 at 5:45 am

    YES!!!! THIS!!! 1000% LIKE!! 🙂 🙂

    Can you possibly post some links to those studies you mention? I have been saying this FOR YEARS but have not seen any studies to back up my assertions – and, thus, most of my circle continue to belly ache about the high costs, but just won’t accept what apparently studies show – and I have said – SO-CALLED FINANCIAL AID IS THE PROBLEM!! THAT is HOW THIS HAPPENED!!

    (—sorry for the all-caps; I am just so excited that there is data to support what I’ve been saying….

Mark Finkelstein | April 14, 2017 at 11:01 am

Getting a rise out of the Cuomo administration shows that you really hit a sore spot: great going!

By the way, you are a great soldier for our cause, but in the first line, did Mujica actually call you “uniformed” instead of uninformed?

When I get an e-mail notification of an article headline like this, I wish there was a link at the top of the e-mail that would take me directly to the article. I had to look pretty hard to find it.

Please….the response ignores the overarching reason for the program in the first place: to send Prince Andy Boy to the White House. In 2020 there won’t be any data to show the hosing the taxpayers of NY will be taking with this boondoggle; it’ll be Skittles and unicorns and all things good that Hamlet on the Hudson’s son has brought us.