By Andrew Moran

New York State is home to multiple sports franchises, the loveliest foliage in October, and spoiled hipster children who think they are deep by reading Das Kapital, watching Ingmar Bergman pictures, and wearing clothing from a Greenwich Village thrift shop, despite being born with a silver spoon in their mouths. While The Empire State is held hostage to the whims of those east of the Hudson River, the rest of the state is compelled to endure the boondoggles and blunders of big city progressives.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

To show off his progressive credentials, and to gain votes from the something for nothing crowd, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) announced last year that he was introducing an ambitious tuition-free college program for households earning $125,000 or less. But, like other socialist endeavors, it has turned out to be a complete failure, fraught with backfires and unintended consequences.

Don’t worry, some kid sporting a Che Guevara t-shirt will shriek that that’s not real socialism!

Paying for a Free Ride

Under the state’s “free” tuition program, you qualify for taxpayer support by meeting these criteria:

  • Graduate in four years.
  • Carry 30 credits a year.
  • Have annual family income sit under the threshold.
  • Use funds only for tuition.

State Republicans also added the provision that applicants must be required to live and work in New York when they finish school, something that Gov. Cuomo agreed with because of the “brain-drain problem” affecting the city.

The media fell in love with the initiative, touting it as “universal public college tuition for working- and middle-class residents.” Like everything else in life, the press got it wrong – way wrong.

It turns out that the rich qualified for the government-subsidized tuition far more than the poor and middle-class. The affluent benefited, while the impecunious were left sitting on the sidelines.

According to a study by the Center for an Urban Future, an economic social justice think tank out of New York, just 3.2%, or 20,000 kids, enrolled in SUNY and CUNY universities could meet the precise requirements. The report found that 83% of the students were rejected for not having enough units, something out of their control because they were working part-time to pay for textbooks, accommodation, and other living expenses. The rich students were able to carry the 30 units throughout the entire year since they did not have to cover these same costs.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple University, had it right when she told MarketWatch that “there are too many barriers, misunderstandings, lack of trust and too many catches.”

When you have 70% of applicants turned down, then you know you have a problem.

More States Adopting ‘Free’ Tuition

In recent years, heeding the deafening wails and vulgarities of leftists demanding free stuff just for gracing us with their presence, many states and localities have been adopting so-called free college tuition, as well as promise programs that tap the taxpayers to cover some of the costs for students.

Activists and politicians who advocate for free tuition purport that it encourages impoverished students to attend college, adding that it helps them avoid the bureaucratic mess of the financial-aid system.

Like everything else the state touches, it typically turns into a fiscal disaster rife with repercussions for students, taxpayers, and future politicians who will be slapped with the label of “literally Hitler” for making the responsible choice of slashing and burning these insolvency-inducing entitlement programs.

Right now, New York spends $1 billion on college financial assistance, plus another $200 million for Cuomo’s vote-buying blitzkrieg – and the costs keep creeping up. Since more students are attracted to the promise of free tuition, the demand will increase, shooting up the annual price-tag. With the second-largest debt in the country ($87 billion) and a multi-billion-dollar deficit, Albany can’t afford the old spending plans, let alone new ones.

In addition to financial deliberations, there are plenty of other considerations.

As more students become attracted to the promise of free tuition, the demand will surge for useless degrees, like LGBT studies, sociology, and art history, that offer little to no job prospects. Why not obtain a degree for a passion of yours when you don’t have to pay for it? That is when you have a ballooning skills and supply shortage for in-demand careers, which is already happening.

Government Intervenes in Education

If there is any area that has been negatively affected by government intervention it is education.

For the last 40 years, the U.S. government has increasingly intervened into the education sector, taking over from states and localities. As a result, elementary and secondary schools are failing, the higher-education system is corrupt and crumbling, and the government is churning out illiterate students – where is that $13,000 per pupil going? One can only imagine if the private sector had such an output.

America’s higher-ed used to be the envy of the world – until now. Unfortunately, more political intervention has metastasized universities and colleges into indoctrination centers that extend expensive diplomas to graduates that would be better utilized as scrap paper. It’s too bad that taxpayers are subsidizing perpetual failure, but anything to appease the career activists who think the free ride can linger on eternally.

Do you support New York State’s “free” tuition program? Let us know in the comments section!

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