New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton were all smiles last week as they signed a bill into law that awards free tuition to students who attend the Empire State’s public universities. At the signing ceremony, held at LaGuardia Community College, Cuomo thanked Clinton for the great idea, noting she first mentioned it on the campaign trail last year.
“That will make this place a better place and this scholarship program is going to transform lives,” the governor predicted.
Low income students already get grants that cover tuition. This new benefit applies to families making between $50,000 and $100,000. Those making less than $50,000 were already eligible through Pell Grants and so forth. This is welfare for the middle class.
Those making more than $100,000 don’t qualify. There is no sliding scale. If your household brings in $99,999.99 you get free college. Make two cents more and you get nothing. That is a huge disincentive to work.
Of course nothing is free. The professors and administrators won’t be taking a pay cut. This will be paid with tax dollars. That means that a lot of hard-working blue collar, Trump supporting types who never went to college will now be paying the tuition of progressives who hate their guts.
What happens to private colleges? They now have competitors who get funded by their tax dollars. It’s tough to compete with ‘free’. Many who could and would have paid will opt to go on the government tuition dole.
An iron clad law of economics is that free goods are overused goods. How will they ration ‘free’ tuition? Who gets to go and who gets rejected? If there is no rationing, one of two things must happen: 1) costs will necessarily skyrocket beyond any control, or 2) the quality of education will plummet.
Students and their families now have no skin in the game. They are now free to treat universities the same way they treat high schools: Like a baby sitter for people who don’t have anything else to do. If the cost of tuition is zero, the cost of dropping out is zero.
Anything that isn’t worth paying for is generally worth what you paid for it. Expect that value of credentials from any ‘free’ school to fall to near zero.