- More than 20 states have implemented a type of free college tuition plan, with Arkansas, Indiana, Montana, and Rhode Island joining the bandwagon earlier this year. And, New York took the lead in offering universal coverage for four-year public institutions as well, reports CNBC.
- However, Oregon, which became one of the first states to offer free tuition at community colleges, is seeing cuts due to high participation and limited funding, writes KSAT. Though the scholarship is only available to students graduating from high school with over a 2.5 GPA and recent GED recipients, the state has had to make additional changes in its eligibility requirements, thereby excluding wealthier students.
- Still, the state has seen success with its Oregon Promise program, encouraging an additional 1,000 to 1,200 students to enroll in community college in the first year, according to data kept by the state. And, a survey found that without the scholarship, many students wouldn't have gone to college at all — a reality which means that while the pathway to free tuition may come with some road bumps, college campuses will still see the benefit of more students enrolling.
States are finding some of the full, projected advantages of these programs still need to be accessed — and that will take some reshuffling in how plans are being offered. Oregon, for example, is just one that is realizing its budget did not account for how many students would be eager to participate in its free tuition plan, and as a result is having to implement further eligibility requirements, which means that while more students have access to college, there are still many that continue to be left out.
In the case of New York, many colleges have opted out of participating in the Excelsior Scholarship, which had lower income barriers, but required institutions to foot part of the bill. Other critics argued that the graduation requirement of having scholarship recipients stay in the state and work actually hurt low-income students that couldn't afford cost of living. Moreover, the full-time requirement means that nontraditional students with families or jobs may not be able to access it.