I Support Cuomo’s Free Tuition Plan

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo at MTA New York City Transit Headquarters on October 24, 2013. Photo via WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Opinion Editor

As Saint Rose students were sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying their spring(ish) break, those who didn’t block out school entirely may have noticed an email come into their inboxes on March 10.

The passionate email was a call to action for Saint Rose students to speak out as the New York State Assembly debated Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to make public college tuition free for students whose families’ income is less than $125,000 a year.

While I applaud the College’s effort to encourage political action, the email seemed to ignore the fact that some students, including myself, may disagree.

“You know what is best for you,” the email said. “When you are able to make your own choices, you are much more likely to succeed.”

As a private college student who supports Governor Cuomo’s plan, this was concerning.

First, I think public colleges should be tuition free, which means I apparently don’t know what’s best for me.

Second, the college is advocating for more “choice,” just semesters after significantly limiting the options of programs students who attend Saint Rose can study in. To say the governor is serving as a hindrance to students’ choice is a bit hypocritical.

If students are “more likely to succeed” with more choices, then it seems to me that limiting the choice of programs would be counterintuitive.

If anything, having free colleges in the state of New York would increase competition, potentially driving down the cost of higher education throughout the entire region, which, of course, private colleges would not like to see, given that they need money to survive.

Cuomo’s plan could upset that trend.

The email was written under the assumption that everyone receiving it was in agreement. On a campus riddled with Bernie Sanders stickers, and in an area he won handily in the Democratic Primary, this assumption is likely incorrect.

The focal point of Sanders’ campaign was the idea of tuition-free public college. This goal was then integrated into the official Democratic Party platform on which Hillary Clinton, who also won the city, ran.

The yearly cost for tuition at Saint Rose is just under $30,000, so it is understandable that the college would feel threatened by public college removing tuition, and they have the full right to publically make their opinion on the topic known.

After all, Cuomo’s program could hurt enrollment at Saint Rose, where finances are already a major issue. However, a problem arises when a college assumes all of their students think alike.

The email does just that, and it goes a step further by suggesting to students how they should think.

Yes, it is good to have choices. I had the choice between public and private college, and I chose private.

However, too many low-income families are not given the choice to send their children to any college, public or private. Many cannot afford $30,000 a year, even with scholarships and tuition assistance.

I apologize, Saint Rose, but I am a private college student who supports free public higher education, and I’m not alone.

1 Comment on "I Support Cuomo’s Free Tuition Plan"

  1. Walter McKinney | March 28, 2017 at 3:37 pm | Reply

    1) Nothing is free.
    2) $30,000 is sticker price, not actual net price.
    3) Higher education should not be free. Students should have skin in the game and graduating in your early 20s with a modest level of debt (on average $25K) is not that bad. $25K in debt, compared to the debt you will acquire of your lifetime is a modicum of what you will take on: car, house, children.
    4) You have zero clue what you are talking about when you advocate for “free”

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