New York recently became the first state to offer tuition-free college to those in the middle class or below.
The law passed by the state legislature over the weekend provides those in the income brackets of $100,000 a year or below in 2017 with a scholarship to attend a state or city college for free; that number will rise to $110,000 in 2018 and $125,000 in 2019. The law does not cover the cost of housing or textbooks, and illegals will not be covered.
"College is today what high school was 50 years ago," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said on New York radio station AM 970. "If you're a young person who wants success and a career, a college education is necessary."
However, the concept of "free" college will actually be quite costly for the state of New York. Here are five reasons why.
1. Taxpayers will shoulder the increasingly heavy burden. The program is expected to cost $163 million in the first year alone; Tyler Durden noted at Zero Hedge that "like all other entitlements, [it] will only grow over time." New York already has the highest tax burden in the country, meaning that as the program expands, every taxpayer in the state will get whacked by onerous taxes.
2. Colleges will ultimately be forced to raise the cost of tuition even higher. It's a matter of basic economics: as demand increases, prices increase; eliminating college tuition for numerous people at the $125,000 income bracket and below increases demand; therefore, tuition costs will increase. There is already evidence to suggest that expanding the availability of federal subsidies increased the cost of tuition; back in July a New York Times article examining Hillary Clinton's free college plan – which was similar to New York's new program – pointed to a New York Federal Reserve study that "looked at three different increases in federal subsidies in recent years and found that each had produced a significant increase in college tuition."
The Times article also noted:
Under Mrs. Clinton’s plan, most students would not feel the pain of tuition increases. The government would pay their bills regardless. But that could make it easier for colleges to raise prices, as they would not need to fear a loss of customers.
The same logic would apply to New York's new program.
3. Class sizes will be adversely affected by the program. The surge in demand that stems from making college free would overwhelm college class sizes, meaning that some form of rationing would have to occur. Various European countries that offer free college require high school students to pass exhaustive tests in order to enter college; for instance, according to the Cato Institute, "Germany is infamous for tracking students into or out of higher education by a test called the Abitur. In France, high school principals, essentially, decide whether a student gets to be on a college track, and the weeklong baccalaureate exam determines if they can go to a university."
The classes themselves in countries like Germany tend to consist of "large lectures at which attendance is strictly optional" that are "based on rigorous exams rather than modular coursework," according to assistant professor at George Washington University Samuel Goldman.
4. Colleges will be forced to cut back on various amenities that students take for granted. Per Goldman, universities in Germany don't offer the following:
- Elaborate food and other amenities.
- Subsidized clubs and extracurricular activities.
- Academic remediation.
- Flexibility in majors.
That's because the only feasible way for colleges and universities to accommodate a mass influx of students is to offset costs elsewhere; therefore, many colleges won't be able to afford campus housing and sports programs.
5. Free college would come at the expense of small private colleges. As this Conservative Review video explains, private colleges are already far more expensive than public colleges. Allowing public college to be free to a wide swath of the population would make it even harder for private colleges to compete and could put the existence of smaller private colleges in jeopardy.
In other words, New York's new program is the first step toward forcing its citizens into free college for all, providing everyone with lesser quality colleges and class sizes for degrees that are becoming increasingly worthless in order to get indoctrinated by left-wing dogma. That is ultimately what hardworking state taxpayers will be paying for.