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College "Free for All" in Almost 20 States!


January 8, 2019 4:15 PM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
Across the nation, nearly 20 states offer statewide free college programs in an effort to increase the number of students attending college. The hope is that five years from now, we would expect that a majority of the states in the country would have free college tuition, and that would be a tipping point. States including Tennessee, Arkansas, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon and Rhode Island have already rolled out statewide free community-college programs, and more are expected to follow.

Across the nation, nearly 20 states offer statewide free college programs in an effort to increase the number of students attending college. The hope is that "five years from now, we would expect that a majority of the states in the country would have free college tuition, and that would be a tipping point." States including Tennessee, Arkansas, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon and Rhode Island have already rolled out statewide free community-college programs, "and more are expected to follow."

The cost of college tuition has "historically risen about 3 percent to 5 percent a year, according to the College Board, continuously outpacing inflation and family income." During the recession, average tuition and fees rose 26 percent and 35 percent at private four-year schools and four-year public schools, respectively. For many students, free tuition programs can be a "lifeline," where "there are students that may have counted themselves out and when they hear that you can go for free that provides a sense of momentum." Some of the current free college programs being offered include New York's Excelsior Scholarship and the Tennessee Promise Scholarship.

Many of the free college programs are "last-dollar" scholarships, where the program pays for the tuition and fees left after college financial aid and college grants are applied. Critics of the free college programs argue that lower-income students already pay less tuition to state school - if anything at all - "through a combination of existing grants and scholarships." Some believe that the free college programs aren't "going to do anything to help the group that really does need help the most...the students whose family incomes are less than $60,000 a year." Additionally, some of the free college scholarship programs are tied to set requirements, such as requiring students to live and work in state after graduation or maintaining full-time stats; potential obstacles for low-income students who must work and balance family commitment.

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Carrie R.  on  1/17/2019 4:03:30 PM commented:

Beware of the Socialist creep! NOTHING is free. Nor should it be. Work for what you want and need. Own it. That's what America USED to be about. Now we're growing generations of socialists. It will kill us - it already is as we creep into socialized medicine.

Anonymous  on  1/16/2019 1:02:43 PM commented:

NYS propaganda spread by CUOMO and his pets City University of New York (CUNY) Its so restrictive hardly anuone is eligible or receiving the excelsior. 2% of CUNY 500,000 plus students are actually receiving the excelsior. The politics of it all and the illusory promises. Do.your homework.

Valerie S.  on  1/15/2019 11:20:41 AM commented:

New York's Excelsior "Scholarship" requires the recipient to remain living in New York state the same number of years that one receives the benefit. If you move out of state, this "scholarship" turns into a low-interest loan which must be repaid.

Tom G  on  1/14/2019 6:06:53 AM commented:

There is no such thing as free. What yiu are saying is that you wasn't college education to be part of a socialist government. Socialized college education is a bad idea. No one wins.

Ben  on  1/14/2019 2:27:31 AM commented:

The problem with Oregon’s program is that it only applies to high school graduates after the bill passed. Those of us who graduated before the “Oregon Promise” still face the same challenges as before.

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