The Plan for Free College in New York Has a Catch

Yesterday, New York became the first state to offer free four-year college when the state passed a budget package that included changes to the state’s educational funding. So does that mean school’s now free in New York? Not really, no.

Nearly 80 percent of the state’s college-aged residents will reportedly be eligible for free tuition under this program, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, making it a program unlike any other in the country. But it still doesn’t mean students will graduate debt-free.

In 2017, the scholarship will only go to families who make less than $100,000 a year. The limit will increase to $110,000 in 2018 and $125,000 in 2019.

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While this sounds great, there are a few hitches in the budget proposal that actually kind of suck.

Like for example, the scholarship also only applies to state colleges and universities in New York, meaning the CUNY and SUNY schools. The scholarship also only covers tuition, meaning no extra fees or housing will be covered. Not even books are covered, which can cost a shit ton each semester.

Housing can be just as pricey as tuition, and students will be on their own to pay for it. And since you have to be taking a full course load to have your classes totally paid for, your part-time job had better pay pretty freaking well to cover those bills.

Also, the income threshold seems arbitrary. For example, if your parents make under $100,000, you’re gucci. But if they make $102,000, you still have to pay for school. Not really fair, right?

Despite these challenges, this resolution is definitely a step in the right direction, especially considering college has basically become what high school used to be in terms of necessity.

Other states like Tennessee, Oregon and Minnesota offer tuition free two-year college for an associate’s degree, but New York is the first to offer a fully paid for bachelor’s degree.

So way to go, New York.

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