Tuition free college education initiatives are not just in New York. San Francisco approved a transfer tax on properties selling for more than $5 million to fund an education program that allows all city residents to attend the City College of San Francisco tuition-free at $46 a credit, no matter what their income level. The tax would also provide the college with nearly $5.4 million annually and would offer full-time low-income (125,000 annual) students, who have lived in the city of San Francisco for at least a year, $250 per semester for books. The souring costs of living in San Francisco requires a six figure income and the need for higher education is essential.
The National Conference of State Legislators created a list of the States that offer tuition assistance programs or have bills that could offer free tuition programs. Tennessee already offers tuition free programs and so do other colleges throughout the U.S. The fine print of these deals is what applying students must be aware of before they sign the doted line.
Berea College in Kentucky offers free tuition and requires students to work on campus for 10 hours a week while earning only 4.65-6.80 to pay for room, boards and books. The Webb Institute in New York is an engineering school with 1 course of study that offers free tuition for a duel bachelors degree in naval architecture and marine engineering.
Then there is the Airforce, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, Military and Naval Academies throughout the U.S. that offer free tuition but require post graduate service and other requirements.
Throughout the U.S. there are programs that help students pay for college but they all come with requirements and restrictions. Even the NY Excelsior Program will require students to stay in NY and work for 4 years after graduating. Students can leave the state for graduate studies but the free tuition agreements with SUNY and CUNY schools will only remain free if the student returns to NY after their graduate studies and work for 4 years in the State.
Higher education is changing, colleges and universities must be able to afford students an opportunity to attend to stay open, focus studies and programs so resources are not wasted and help students gain employment after graduation. The requirements that come with "Free" tuition or tuition assistance keep all parties focused on their main objectives: educate students for practical industry employment based on a students passions and skills.
Some of the most helpful programs for students are the ones that integrate higher education and industry application at the high school level. Although dual enrollment offerings vary widely by state, research has shown that program participants are more likely to persist in post-secondary education and accumulate more college credits than comparison students. Some programs even offer enough courses to allow students to earn an associate’s degree upon high school completion.
Career and technical education (CTE) programs are offered in every state with the purpose of aligning secondary and post-secondary education which leads to industry recognized credentials. In NY, the Boces program provides this mixed industrial and higher education credits.
The benefits of a well prepared workforce are causing some businesses get directly involved with creating opportunities for students to gain credentials through industry partnerships. IBM’s Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH) and Toyota’s Advanced Manufacturing Technician program (AMT) are just 2 of them.
P-TECH, a public school, that combines four years of high school with the two years of college (grades 9-14). The school collaborates IBM Corporation, the New York City Department of Education, the City University of New York and New York City College of Technology to give students a high school diploma, as well as, a no-cost associates degree in a technology field of their choosing.
Toyota’s (AMT) program is a partnership with Kentucky’s Bluegrass Community College that combines classroom instruction with on-site training at a local Toyota manufacturing facility, resulting in an associate’s degree in Applied Science. Students receive paid work experience along with an intensive high-tech curriculum, general education skills, and workplace culture and behavior.
Do you think the requirements that come with these "free" tuition programs are too restrictive on graduates? If all colleges were "free" would state work restrictions still be necessary?
New York will be the first state to make tuition at public colleges and universities free for students under a state budget approved by lawmakers on April 9, 2017. A $153 billion state budget proposal that passed the state Senate late Sunday after being endorsed by the Assembly a day earlier includes the tuition plan that will be phased in over three years. State residents making up to $100,000 annually in the fall of 2017, increasing to $110,000 in 2018, and reaching $125,000 in 2019 will qualify.
Cuomo's office says some 940,000 families will be covered under the program. The initiative also includes $19 million for a new tuition award program for students at private colleges. New York’s tuition-free degree program, known as, The Excelsior Scholarship, requires participating students to be enrolled at a SUNY or CUNY two- or four-year college full-time.
The Excelsior Scholarship program will ensure that students statewide, regardless of their socio-economic status, have the opportunity to receive a quality education and gain the skills they need to succeed in our global economy.
"A college education is not a luxury – it is an absolute necessity for any chance at economic mobility, and with these first-in-the-nation Excelsior Scholarships, we’re providing the opportunity for New Yorkers to succeed, no matter what zip code they come from and without the anchor of student debt weighing them down," Governor Cuomo said. "New York is making a major investment in our greatest asset – our people – and supporting the dreams and ambitions of those who want a better life and are willing to work hard for it. I am honored to have the support of Senator Sanders, who led the way on making college affordability a right, and I know that together we can make this a reality with New York leading the way once again."
By leveraging New York State’s generous aid programs like the Tuition Assistance Program or TAP, which provides nearly $1 billion in grants to college students statewide the initiative will start. Under the program, eligible students would still receive TAP and any applicable federal grants. Additional state funds would cover the remaining tuition costs for incoming or existing eligible students.
With an average annual tuition ranging from $6,470-$6,330 at SUNY and CUNY for a bachelor’s degree and $4,350-$4,800 for an associate’s degree, the more time a student spends in college, the higher the level of debt. By mandating that students be enrolled full-time, New York’s free tuition program will work to improve graduation rates and alleviate the heavy burden of student debt by encouraging more students to graduate on time in two to four years.
Studies show a person with a bachelor’s degree, on average, will earn about 66 percent more over his or her lifetime than a person without a college degree. Those with an associate’s degree can expect to earn 24 percent more than a person with a high school diploma. Moreover, a college education is increasingly becoming a necessity, not a luxury. According to projections by the New York State Department of Labor, approximately 3.5 million jobs statewide will require an associate’s degree or higher by 2024. As the landscape of the global economy continues to shift, investing in a highly-qualified, highly-educated workforce has never been more important.
This program offers an empowering opportunity for the residents that surround CUNY and SUNY colleges throughout the state. Students will have to maintain full-time status, a passing GPA and will not receive aid for room and board. This encourages students to stay local and focus their studies at the community level. It will have a positive impact on CUNY and SUNY institutions providing increased and evolved services for their local communities.
What are your thoughts on local CUNY and SUNY Institutions participating in local communities and fostering innovation and sustainability?