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Channel 6 News - Search Results

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NYS Assemblyman proposes free tuition plan

SCHENECTADY -- Could free college become the new norm in New York?  It would if a local legislator's proposal passes.

"I consider myself one of the lucky students because I'll only end up with $25,000 in loans so I still think that's completely unacceptable," said UAlbany student Jamie Zieno.

But as many as sixty percent of New York students are believed to be right there with Zieno -- or they'll owe even more.  Free tuition to schools in the state university system may help.  The idea is that an eligible student wouldn't have to pay -- but the arrangement would pay for itself.

"It requires 250 hours of community service or 125 if it's a stem program and we're investing in our students but they're investing back in the community," said Asm. Angelo Santabarbara (D-Rotterdam).  "That can generate up to $3 billion a year."

Santabarbara is pushing the proposal.  A student would also have to live in New York for a year before going to school, and stay here for at least five years after graduating.

"Having the workforce here having an educated workforce will encourage more businesses to come to the state and generate those jobs," Santabarbara said.

The assemblyman says 10 to 20 percent of people who graduate school in New York don't remain in the Empire State to start their careers.  Those behind the proposal believe 400,000 to 500,000 students could take advantage of tuition free New York, and the programs to help them make the cut.

"Every school, especially suny schools I think we're really good at this, there are several community service clubs and they already do that," Zieno said.

If a student was to accept the program and then decides not to fulfill the community service requirements or leave New York in less than five years, they would have to pay the money back.

"I would think about it but I probably wouldn't do it," said UAlbany student Kaitlin Arbusto.  "I've lived in New York for twenty years.  I'm ready to go."

Santabarbara said that the cost to cover the program would be covered by 1% of the state budget.
 
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