Socialism at its finest: Most NY kids can't get any of that vaunted 'free' education

Back in the Occupy days, "free education for all" was the daily socialist battle cry.  And sure enough, New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo eventually handed it to them in a much ballyhooed rollout, of free scholarships to all New York residents, to any state school, in 2017.  Free stuff!  The protesters won!

Here's what NBC reported at the time:

New York will be the only state in the country to offer universal public college tuition coverage for working- and middle-class residents after the program was included in the budget package approved Sunday night.

The state's Excelsior Scholarship program will be rolled out in tiers over the next three years, starting with full coverage of four-year college tuition this fall for students whose families make less than $100,000.

The income cap will increase to $110,000 in 2018 and $125,000 in 2019.

While states like California and Georgia have comprehensive grant and scholarship programs for four-year college as well, New York's is the nation's only truly universal program – with no requirements other than residency and income, and no caps on the amount [sic] of residents who can receive full tuition.

Turns out the free rides weren't so free, actually.  Seventy percent of New York's students got rejected for them, and not because they couldn't read or something.

As in any regime of bureaucratic socialism, there were requirements, precise requirements, and only the relatively rich – about 20,000 kids, or 3.2% of the enrollees in New York's SUNY and CUNY universities –  could meet them.  Eighty-three percent of the kids got turned down for not having enough units, because, well, they were working part-time or more.  The richer kids got the free stuff, the poor kids got shut out, and New York's governor said all was hunky-dory.  According to Fox News:

  • In order to qualify for the free tuition program, students must graduate in four years.
  • They have to carry 30 credits per year.
  • Their annual family income must be less than $110,000.
  • The scholarship money can be used only for tuition, not for living expenses or books.
  • The GPA requirement varies depending on the major.
  • Applicants are also required to live and work in New York when they leave school for the number of years they received the scholarship money.  If they don't, they have to pay the money back.

So the short story here is that any kid who has to work for room and board, or to buy schoolbooks, pretty well gets no free stuff, being rich and all from all those part-time jobs.  Only the kids who don't have to pay for those things and who can carry a 30-unit load through the year can get the free tuition, which oftentimes at state schools isn't the biggest expense.  No surprise, most kids don't qualify.

Chalk it up to another signature shortage of socialism, based on regulatory control, which includes a rather amazing socialist desire to control not just kids' college lives, but kids' post-college lives, given the requirements to live and work in New York.  The requirements follow them wherever they go.

Some free stuff, and don't imagine there aren't lefties who will praise this as it is, typically in office, while other lefties, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are calling for more of it in other areas.  It's a characteristic of socialism, actually – and yet the Ocasio-Cortezes amazingly just keep getting elected, despite the students rightfully not liking it.  Call it a disconnect.  Because this is what free stuff looks like.

Image credits: Michael Fleshman via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0; Paul Reynolds, FEE, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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