UB students react to New York State free tuition plan

Students have mixed feelings about Gov. Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship


Matt Rivera almost dropped out of UB after his freshman year because tuition was too expensive.

Rivera, Student Association president, has struggled with college tuition fees and is excited amongst other students about the tuition-free legislation that Albany lawmakers approved this past weekend. Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced the Excelsior Scholarship in January that states students who are enrolled at a four-year State of New York college and whose families earn no more than $100,000 a year may be eligible.

Students must be full-time with 30 credits per year, but the caveat is that students must work in New York State for as many years as they received the scholarship. If they do not stay in New York State, the scholarship would be revoked and students would be required to pay back the loan.

UB has not yet released any official statement regarding free tuition.

“I think it’s a really great idea and I’m glad we were finally able to pass something,” Rivera said. “I’m glad that students with families who have lower incomes can attend college and don’t have to worry about tuition even though there will be other fees. Tuition fee is a huge burden and it’s great they won’t have to come out of school with those loans.”

Rivera said he would qualify for this scholarship and would love to be a part of the program.

Joseph Glickman, a freshman computer science major, has a full tuition scholarship based on merit and is also excited about the program.

“I think it’s good to make education as accessible to as many people as possible,” he said. “That’s the only way you can really better society and raise the standards of the community.”

UB’s current tuition is $6,770 for New York State residents and $23,270 for out-of-state residents. Room and board and university fees are not included in the scholarship program.

An income cap will be raised to $110,000 in 2018 and will lift to $125,000 in 2019. Cuomo attempted to make undocumented students eligible, but lawmakers did not include that clause in the final budget.

Other students who qualify are skeptical about the program.

Adutayo Adewole, a junior exercise science major, thinks students who don’t pay tuition won’t take school seriously.

“It’s going to make [college] like high school part two. It’s going to be a waste of time,” Adewole said.

Nolan Grieb, a sophomore finance major, thinks the offer is too good to be true.

“I think there are loopholes that need to be written before it’s finalized,” Grieb said. “I would say I’m skeptical. It’s not black and white like Cuomo says it is.”

Other students are upset they won’t qualify.

Hanna Kim, an international student from South Korea and a sophomore business administration major, thinks the program will be helpful for lower income families but not for other students.

“I don’t think it’s that fair,” Kim said. “I think they should make a better policy that involves out-of-state and international students because not all international students are loaded with money.”

Evan Tirsun, a senior business administration major, wishes this plan came into effect when he first started college.

He hasn’t decided if he wants to stay in New York after college, so he isn’t sure if he would take advantage of the scholarship.

“I do think it’s a good start to making school cheaper for students who can’t afford it,” Tirsun said.

Hannah Stein is a co-senior news editor and can be reached at hannah.stein@ubspectrum.com