For those of us crumbling under the weight of crushing student debt, Governor Andrew Cuomo made an enticing proposal at LaGuardia Community College last week. Under Cuomo’s plan, full-time students accepted to any SUNY or CUNY two or four-year college course would be able to receive supplemental aid to cover the cost of tuition if they or their families make $125,000 or less a year.
Naming it the Excelsior Scholarship, Cuomo pledged that the state would lead the way in making college more affordable and that “It is incredibly expensive and the debt is so high it’s like starting a race with an anchor tied to your leg.” Killing student debt would go a long way in helping new workforce entrants pay their bills and build an ever-elusive savings account.
Perhaps I’m biased, as I amassed quite a bit of student loan debt while attending Queens College—and that isn’t even close to being an expensive education. Average tuition costs at SUNY and CUNY schools range from $6,330 to $6,470 a year for a bachelor’s degree and $4,350 to $4,800 a year for an associate’s degree. Not exactly crippling amounts, but enough to keep many from gaining the education they desperately need.
Gainful employment is the goal for everyone. All anyone wants is to be able to make enough money to ensure at least a minimal amount of monetary comfort, while also holding onto enough cash to build something of a nest egg.
Now it is up to the state legislature to approve the bill, at which point it would be rolled out gradually over the next three years. Owning one’s fiscal responsibility is an important step in adulthood—but the state should lend a helping hand where it can.