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Cuomo's Free College Tuition Plan Could Be Devastating, Astorino Says

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino Photo Credit: File photo
Gov. Cuomo was joined by Hillary Clinton for the signing of legislation to provide tuition-free college at New York’s public universities to families making up to $125,000 a year.
Gov. Cuomo was joined by Hillary Clinton for the signing of legislation to provide tuition-free college at New York’s public universities to families making up to $125,000 a year. Video Credit: NYGovCuomo

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, along with college leaders across the area, are concerned that private colleges could be hit hard under new legislation that offers free college tuition to all New York students.

“If you think college is expensive now, just wait until it's free,” Astorino said.

The program, which begins this fall, offers students who attend a SUNY or CUNY institution an Excelsior Scholarship (free tuition) provided their families earn less than $100,000 per year.

Citing research by Georgetown University and a study provided by The Commission on Independent Colleges & Universities in New York the group of private college presidents said they expect significant drops in enrollment, causing unintended economic consequences while limiting student choice in higher education.

Astorino concluded that the commission’s study and the concerns of private colleges indicate a devastating economic impact to Westchester as well as the state.

“In Westchester, this proposal could mean the loss of 5,000 jobs supported by our private colleges,” Astorino said. “The governor’s plan threatens to become a double whammy: taxpayers will be asked to pay more to cover the rising public school budgets as more students flock to them. And students in private schools will be looking at higher tuition bills as their schools have to react to declining enrollment.”

Students receiving the assistance must agree to stay in New York for at least four years following graduation. For more on that, click here.

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