The article N.Y.'s Tuition-Free Dream Meets Details by Rick Seltzer was published on April 17, 2017, by the Inside Higher Ed website. The essay talks in detail about the newly introduced program called the Excelsior Scholarship that gives free tuition to students studying in New York. The scholarship works in such a way that the student will study, live and work in New York. The article looks at the several drawbacks of the program. The recipients of the programs are expected to live and work in New York after graduating for the same number of years they received the grants, or else the scholarship will turn into loans. The students are also required to have 30 credits annually if they are to remain eligible. These are some of the arguments that the article is trying to bring out. According to Rick Seltzer, the program has elicited a long-ranging debate on whether it is an effective policy or if it is an elaborate program that restricts, overpromises and one that will eventually underperform. Though the program looks favorable to the middle class especially those who cannot afford tuition for their children, it lacks details on several issues, and it also has several drawbacks.
To start with, Rick Seltzer argues that some graduates might find it hard to work and live in New York even if the state gives graduates a fertile ground for in-state jobs with high wages. This is because the cost of living in New York is high and this might make it difficult for the graduating students to live and work there. According to Fried Neal and D. Robinson the cost of living is too high. This is because the city has the highest income taxes in the country which ranges from 7% to 12%. Apart from the taxes, the graduate student will spend more on housing and transport. The prices for products that a graduate student needs daily while living in New York are up to twice the normal national averages. The cost of renting a house in New York is expensive with data indicating that little change in the future. For example, in the month of April 2016, the monthly rent in Brooklyn clocked in at $ 2, 607 and $ 3, 114 in Manhattan. The cost of transportation is also high especially for those who own cars because of the higher insurance rates. With this information, a student under the program will not have the option of living, for example, in New Jersey even with the high cost of living in New York, just to keep their scholarship from translating into loans.
Secondly, the students are required to take a minimum of 30 credits annually. According to Rick Seltzer, the question is how the program will benefit the students who work during summers to be able to buy food, pay rent and cater for their transport. The problem is that the time might not allow such students to work and still meet the 30 credit requirement. For a student to meet the 30 credit period, they are required to take 12 credits full time. The amount of time spent in the accelerated programs can have several disadvantages. An accelerated program is one where a student takes more credits in a lesser period. This means that the program has an equivalent number of courses with the same quantity of coursework as a four-year program. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, this looks like a benefit, but there are disadvantages. For those with families and with full-time jobs, such students will have to deal with a full schedule that has less free time. This is a disadvantage to those who have to work and school at the same time. In this case, students might opt to drift towards programs that they can meet the necessary requirements to keep their free tuition.
Lastly, what seems to be free college tuition might not be eventually free, but a program with several clawbacks. When the program was unveiled, the parents and students were promised that they would no longer have to worry about paying for college and paying rent, because the state was going to invest in the childs education. This statement might be appealing, but the biggest problem is the signature program that says that,
Students and parents attracted by the glamorous promise of free tuition might be let down by a tangle of fine print that runs from residency requirements to scholarship clawbacks.
Compared to other programs, Excelsior Scholarship can offer a meaningful saving for students in the long run, even though this saving is in the form of tuition. On average at SUNY a four-year program would cost an average of $ 100, 000 which includes room, board, fees, and tuition. Under the Excelsior Scholarship program, the cost would be reduced to $ 56, 920 which is $25, 880 less (Jim Malatras). Considering the loan debt in New York is $ 29, 000 the student will make a meaningful saving though in the form of tuition. In summary, the program has its disadvantages and advantages. It helps the students from family within the middle class who cannot raise tuition fees. Though this is a positive thing, the students ought to meet certain requirements for them to qualify for the scholarship. This includes meeting the minimum 30 credit per year, and the student is also required to live and work in New York for the same duration the scholarship was offered. For students to make informed decisions, more light ought to be shed on this program.
American Association of Colleges of Nursing. "Accelerated baccalaureate and masters degrees in nursing." Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved June 25 (2012): 2013.
Fried, N. E. A. L., and D. Robinson. "The cost of living." Alaska Economic Trends 36.7 (2016): 4-13.
Jim, Malatras. The Excelsior Scholarship: Expanding College Access and Improving Success. Rockefeller Institute of Government [1: Published March (2017)
Rick, Seltzer. N.Y.'s Tuition-Free Dream Meets Details. Inside Higher Ed. Published April 17(2017)
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