Most Shared

Backed by Bernie Sanders, this governor's plan for free college could be a game-changer.

"Other countries have already done it. It's time this country catches up."

Backed by Bernie Sanders, this governor's plan for free college could be a game-changer.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo just announced a landmark plan to make college tuition-free for low- and middle-income families in New York.

The plan is called the Excelsior Scholarship, and it will take effect over the next three years, applying to any student attending a two- or four-year state or city university whose family earns less than $125,000 a year.

Considering that the median household income in New York state was $60,850 in 2015, this could make a huge difference for many families trying to send their kids to college.


"College is a mandatory step if you really want to be a success ... and this society should say we're going to pay for college because you need college to be successful," Cuomo said in his Jan. 3 announcement alongside Sen. Bernie Sanders, who made debt-free college a big part of his presidential campaign. "Other countries have already done it. It's time this country catches up."

Sanders is far from just a silent backer of the project. He took the stage to give a short speech expressing his support for Cuomo's plan, later tweeting, "If New York makes public colleges and universities tuition-free, mark my words, state after state will follow."

Cuomo's plan could be America's first big step toward what many schools across Europe already offer: free or nearly free college tuition for all residents.

Image via iStock.

Public colleges in Germany, Norway, Iceland, and Finland all offer free college tuition for students, no matter their household income — those countries even offer the same deal to international students, which is why American students sometimes opt to go abroad for their degrees.

Free tuition does come with a cost. The money has to come from somewhere, after all.

The reason colleges in other countries are able to offer free tuition is because their citizens pay more in taxes. Countries like Germany also have lower enrollment percentages than the U.S. as a whole.

New York has the third-largest state economy in the United States (on par with all of Canada), with over 1.3 million students attending public colleges. So the program could end up costing much more than the current proposal of $163 million.

There is evidence that tuition-free programs for middle- and low-income students do work in the U.S. on a smaller scale.

In 2015, Stanford University announced tuition would be free for students from households earning $125,000 and under. In fact, all the Ivy League schools (along with other privately owned schools) offer tuition wavers for households earning $75,000 or less. Just as a state would draw from taxes, these schools draw from student tuition funds and other funding sources to make economic diversity on campus a reality.

Stanford University. Photo by Harshlight/Flickr.

Cuomo's plan for one of the wealthiest states in the country has the potential to set a precedent to finally open those doors to any American who wants to walk through them.

Higher education should not only be available to the financially savvy or those lucky enough to be born into wealthy families. No one should have to go into severe debt to get the degree they need to get a job, contribute to the economy, and succeed in life.

You can show your support and learn more about the Excelsior Scholarship program here.

True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


My husband and I had just finished watching "The Office" for the third time through and were looking for a new show to watch before bed. I'd seen a couple of friends highly recommend "Schitt's Creek," so we decided to give it a try.

My initial reaction to the first episode was meh. The characters were annoying and the premise was weird (pretentious and previously-filthy-rich family lives in a scuzzy motel in the middle of nowhere??). I felt nothing for the main characters, and I hate shows with horrible main characters that I can't root for. Even predicting that they were going to eventually be transformed by their small town experiences, I didn't see liking them. It didn't grab either of us as worth continuing, so we stopped.

But then I kept hearing people whose taste I trust implicitly talk about how great it was. I know different people have different tastes, but I realized I had to be missing something if these friends of mine raved on and on about it. So we gave it another shot.

It took a bit—I don't know how many episodes exactly, but a bit—to start liking it. Then a bit longer to start really liking it, and then at some point, it became a full-fledged, gushy, where-have-you-been-all-my-life love affair.

So when the show took home nine Emmy awards over the weekend—breaking the record for the most wins in a season for a comedy—I wasn't surprised. Here's why:

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn’t have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women’s rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn’t something we’d choose—and we’d hope others wouldn’t choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

Keep Reading Show less

Biases, stereotypes, prejudices—these byproducts of the human brain's natural tendency to generalize and categorize have been a root cause of most of humanity's problems for, well, pretty much ever. None of us is immune to those tendencies, and since they can easily slip in unnoticed, we all have to be aware of where, when, and how they impact our own beliefs and actions.

It also helps when someone upends a stereotype by saying or doing something unexpected.

Fair or not, certain parts of the U.S. are associated with certain cultural assumptions, perhaps none more pinholed than the rural south. When we hear Appalachia, a certain stereotype probably pops up in our minds—probably white, probably not well educated, probably racist. Even if there is some basis to a stereotype, we must always remember that human beings can never be painted with such broad strokes.

Enter Tyler Childers, a rising country music star whose old-school country fiddling has endeared him to a broad audience, but his new album may have a different kind of reach. "Long Violent History" was released Friday, along with a video message to his white rural fans explaining the culminating track by the same name. Watch it here:

Keep Reading Show less