WXXI AM News

College presidents sound off on free tuition

Apr 10, 2017

Representatives from private and public schools are reacting to the proposal in the new state budget that provides free tuition at public colleges and universities for middle classe students.

Daan Braveman is president at Nazareth College, a private school.

He argues the free tuition through the Excelsior Scholarship program is not as robust as media reports make it out to be, and private schools recognize the need to make college accessible and affordable.

Daan Braveman

Braveman says private schools educate as many people from poor families as the four year public schools.

"Students will make decisions based on the kinds of programs we offer, the quality of the programs, and I'm confident that Nazareth will do very well when they make that kind of judgment." he said

President at Monroe Community College, Anne Kress, says she's not so sure that this program will take students away from private schools.

"Many of our students will transfer onto great private institutions.  I think students make their decisions to go to one college over another for many, many different reasons, financing being one of them, to be sure.  But there are many other reasons that an Excelsior Scholarship won't change for them," she said.

Anne Kress

Governor Cuomo says the idea behind the program is to provide new economic opportunities for New Yorkers by making college more affordable. 

One wrinkle in the proposal is that students who take advantage of the free tuition must remain in New York State after graduation for as many years as they earned the benefit. 

Otherwise they must pay back the money as a loan.