Free college tuition — it’s back!
There has been a continuing debate as to whether college education is a privilege or a right of citizenship. In an age in which demand for unskilled labor is fading, will people without college be employable in 10 or 20 years?
The US has taken one position on this; Europe and the Commonwealth countries, the opposite. Today, it’s possible for a US family to put four children through college in Europe at the price of sending one to college in the US. For Europeans in several countries, college is free.
In the “golden age” of the US economy after World War II, college was either free or very inexpensive in the US. When I was in high school, City College of New York and the University of California still were free to residents. Ronald Reagan eliminated free tuition in California. New York was earlier.
On February 7th, San Francisco because the first city in the current era to offer free community college education.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced at a press conference yesterday that, starting next fall, community college will be tuition-free for all San Francisco residents through the City College of San Francisco.
As first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco would become the first city in the nation to make community college free to all city residents. Any student who has lived in San Francisco for at least one year – regardless of income – is eligible.
“To California residents who are living in San Francisco, your community college is now free,” Lee said at the press conference. (1)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan in January to make all state, city and community colleges free to residents. There is now a bi-partisan budget deal to make that a reality.
Budget negotiators struck a deal late Friday that could make New York the largest state to offer tuition-free public higher education.
The $163 billion state budget agreement includes the Excelsior Scholarship, which covers tuition for any New Yorker accepted to one of the state’s community colleges or four-year universities, provided their family earns less than $125,000 a year. (2)
Interesting question: Why would you want to live in an expensive state like New Jersey when your kids can attend college for free next door? Or leave San Francisco for anywhere?
- Zack Friedman, “Free College: San Francisco Joins New York With Tuition-Free Plan,” Forbes, 7 Feb. 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2017/02/07/free-college-san-francisco/#590c8b482bb6
- Danielle Douglas-Gabrielle, “New York set to become first state to offer free tuition at public four-year colleges,” The Washington Post, 8 April 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/new-york-to-become-the-largest-state-to-offer-tuition-free-public-higher-education/2017/04/08/3fe0563a-1c8b-11e7-9887-1a5314b56a08_story.html?tid=sm_tw&utm_term=.e16eea88beb6