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New York’s ‘free’ college program will increase tuition and burden taxpayers: policy analyst

New York recently made headlines by adopting a “tuition-free” college program for certain students who attend a State University of New York or City University of New York institution. But while it’s dubbed as “free” college, one education expert says the state’s new initiative isn’t free at all.

Mary Clare Reim, an education policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, writes at The Daily Signal that there’s plenty of costs associated with the program.

“Like all tuition-free proposals, this policy kicks the can down the road, leaving taxpayers and future generations with the bill,” she writes.

Ironically, Reim points out those without a college degree themselves will end up paying for the state’s free college program. Additionally, she suggests tuition costs will rise as a result of its implementation, noting such a program doesn’t mean professors are taking a pay cut or that universities will “cut administrative bloat”:

Indeed, offering free college to students means that someone else is now paying for it: New York taxpayers, many of whom do not hold bachelor’s degrees themselves and will likely earn less in the future than their college-going counterparts for whom they are now footing the bill.

Recent history has shown that removing any financial responsibility from the student to pay for their degree does more harm than good. Economists have found that virtually unrestricted access to federal student aid encourages colleges and universities to raise their tuition prices.

Reim adds the program will mean more state funds are directed toward private universities too. The program also further peddles the notion that every student should pursue a college diploma, Reim writes:

Overall, New York’s tuition-free plan puts taxpayers on the hook for college costs that will only go up. Setting this plan in motion with nothing in place to put downward pressure on costs is fiscally irresponsible.

Furthermore, New York’s plan feeds the narrative that no matter who you are or what career you want to pursue, a four-year bachelor’s degree is the only way to achieve your goals.

For many students, spending four years at a university, often studying material that does nothing to contribute to their future earnings, is not the best option.

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