Free Tuition for SUNY, CUNY Schools to Reap Benefits Locally, Regionally, Nationally, Says President Miles

In a statement issued on the WCC website, WCC President Dr. Belinda Miles expressed her support for Governor Cuomo’s free-tuition proposal for students of families earning under $125,000 per year.

“This proposal would help increase access to higher education throughout New York State and help students improve their lives in the future,” said Miles in her statement, “as more students enter community colleges and complete their studies, they will be positioned to transition to four-year institutions and the workplace where there is a need to fill openings in growing fields such as healthcare, analytics, and information technology.”

According to Miles, the removal of the affordability barrier is one of the fundamental aspects of the community college “open door” access mission.

“Some people believe that since community colleges are priced affordably, there is no need for financial aid and other support for incoming students,” Miles stated, “[but] many of our students need scholarships and state and federal financial aid in addition to loans.”

“Directing new financial resources to talent development in New York is a necessary investment that will reap benefits locally, regionally, and nationally,” Miles wrote in her statement.

In January, Governor Cuomo announces a plan to make SUNY and CUNY colleges tuition-free for students from families making $125,000 or less every year, according to the Westchester County Business Journal.

According to Governor Cuomo, a college education is not a luxury, but rather an absolute necessity for economic mobility.

“More than 940,000 families could qualify for Cuomo’s plan providing free tuition at state and CUNY colleges and universities, including two-year schools,” said the Westchester County Business Journal.

According to the governor’s office, the program, called the Excelsior Scholarship would require students to be enrolled in a two-year or four-year SUNY or CUNY school full time.

“Tuition, however, rarely covers the full cost of college,” wrote the Westchester County Business Journal, “Annual fees, meal plans, books and housing often double or triple the yearly cost of tuition.”

Cuomo’s office estimates the program would cost about $163 million per year. However, the announcement did not include any recommendations about how to finance the scholarships.

WCC student Alexis Garcia feels the program would help a lot with low income families. “Maybe more people would be motivated to go to college then,” Garcia said.

“I think it’s a good thing because more people will have access to a bachelor’s degree,” says WCC student Stephen McMahon. “I also think WCC may lose out on their enrollment rate because they advertise their affordable education.”

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