Behind ‘college promises’: How free is ‘free college’?

May 17, 2019 by

By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo – 

Brenden Bixby chose college over working full time on the apple orchard that his dad manages in Poughkeepsie, New York. He receives the state’s Excelsior Scholarship and other grants to cover his tuition.

But he’s taking out loans for room and board at SUNY Cobleskill, which averages about $13,000 a year. Halfway through college, Mr. Bixby doesn’t know exactly how much he’s borrowed. “I try not to think about it too much just because I don’t want it to bring me down,” he says.

“Free college” scholarships have been proliferating in the United States. Currently, 24 states offer “college promises,” as they are often called, though their eligibility and scope vary widely. Some Democratic presidential contenders also champion the idea as a national solution.

It’s all in response to a growing sentiment that cost has put college degrees out of reach for too many students. Yet there’s often a big gap between free college rhetoric and the reality that boosting higher education success is a complex puzzle. Ultimately, it comes down to a certain amount of trial and error – and persistence – both for the students and the public college systems.

Source: Behind ‘college promises’: How free is ‘free college’? –

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