Weekly Feature

2017-04-13 / Editorial

With free tuition comes expected responsibility

Bee Editorial

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s win for free college tuition in New York state comes on the heels of the Firemen’s Association for the State of New York’s grant application proposal, which was formally supported by the Erie County Legislature and U.S. Rep. Chris Collins at a press conference on Friday.

The FASNY application looks for federal funding to cover college tuition if an undergrad joins a local fire company, simultaneously benefiting fire departments across the state, saving college-bound Western New Yorkers money and bolstering the safety of residents in our communities.

Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship expects college graduates to stay in the state for the number of years they received funding, presumably four years after attending a four-year college, according to Katie Lobosco’s “What you need to know about New York’s tuition-free scholarship” via CNN. In both situations, there’s give and take.

Tuition coverage under the proposed FASNY grant expects individuals to sign up with a local fire company in the hopes that they’ll stay there once they graduate, building a life in a community with friends and family. The Excelsior Scholarship expects students to invest in the state after the state invests in them — by working and living here.

For high-schoolers looking to apply for college or older residents wanting to go back for a degree, either option expects the collegian to give back by way of service, valuable time and maybe even money, depending on what out-of-state opportunities are available.

If given the choice, what would you rather give up: time or money? Answers are probably as diverse as those looking to take advantage of opportunities like this, but the fact is, there’s a choice.

If you want to take out loans and then leave New York, you can. If you’re willing to give up free time and devote yourself to a fire company and its late-night calls, you can.

If diversifying the path to college means more people can go, all the more reason to continue fine-tuning ways to provide an equal playing field for those who want to get their degree and better themselves.

Better yet, better themselves while being an asset to their community.

Encouraging innovative college funding such as the FASNY grant and Excelsior Scholarship will hopefully spur lawmakers, politicians and college administrators to find more ways to make higher education accessible for everyone.

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