Free college tuition?

NY governor sets plan to reduce $1.3 trillion student loan debt

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont supports New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's affortable college plan.


Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont supports New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's affortable college plan.

Binqi Chen, Editorials Editor

As high school graduation rates in the United States have consistently risen in the last few years, college application and enrollment rates are higher than ever.

However, college can also be stressful and frightening, especially with dark clouds of tuition money looming over your head and thousands of dollars worth of heavy debt slumped on your back.

The governor of New York has offered to lift some of that burden off of the state’s low to mid income socioeconomic students in his new Excelsior Scholarship.

Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a revolutionary legislative proposal that would cover all remaining tuition costs of any two or four year public New York state college or community college (SUNY/CUNY) after state and federal aid is applied.

The plan is exclusive to New York students whose families earn less than $125,000 a year. The proposal also only covers New Yorkers and is solely tuition based. The plan also does not include room, board and books.

To maintain his or her enrollment in the scholarship, all a student has to do is make sure they keep their grades high enough so that they are able to graduate from college on time. This scholarship should give the students more initiative and encouragement to complete their degree.

Cuomo’s plan is set to roll out next year and in three parts. In 2017, the scholarship would be exclusive to families that make up to $100,000 annually. The amount would rise to $110,000 in 2018, and finally $125,000 in 2019. Almost a million families would be qualified for the scholarship.

If the proposal is passed, New York would be the largest state that offers free tuition with a total of 64 campuses across the state. If the Excelsior Scholarship proves to be a success, then it without a doubt would set a precedent for other states that are on the edge of providing similar legislative action.

The new proposal is a great push in the effort to decrease the United State’s $1.3 trillion dollar and rising student loan debt. Making higher education available has been the center of both national and global discussion.

Senator Bernie Sanders has given his full support in Cuomo’s scholarship. Throughout his bid for the Democratic party’s presidential nominee, Sanders has repeatedly and passionately expressed his wishes for free college.

The student debt crisis is very much real, and it’s only getting worse. Our government is no longer carrying its weight in helping students pay off increasing college costs, forcing families and graduates to step up and take in more burden. This is not fair, especially since student loans can have serious repercussions for students long after they graduate college.

College is becoming more of an expectation, rather than an option as a large fraction of employers require that their employees have completed some type of postsecondary or higher education.

Affordable college means that there would be more people in specialized jobs, leading to more money in the economy. But, with costs that continue to skyrocket and ridiculous interest rates, many remain in debt for decades after they receive their degree.

Student debt presents an even bigger problem to people who want to pursue professions and occupations that require even further education past a  four year college.

Millions of high school graduates each year jump in excitement at the thought of leaving home and attending college. New sceneries, friends, classes and a sense of adulthood and independency are some of the pros of pursuing a higher education.

But due to stacking costs, some students are simply deciding not to attend college. Money should never be an issue that comes between a person and his or her’s education. Every student should have the access to higher education if they wish.

Providing free or affordable secondary education is not something that can be done overnight. To achieve the goal, it will take bipartisan efforts and the encouragement of global leaders.