The Cuomo College Fiasco

David Brooks, New York Times, Apr 17, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

David Brooks hauls out all the old chestnuts in this criticism of New York's free tuition plans. Let's review:

  • It doesn't do enough for poor people (they already get free tuition, it doesn't cover part time students, etc)
  • It harms for-profit colleges
  • it demotivates students, because people value only what they pay for

Now of course it is a matter of logic that these three can't all be true at once. If it's a problem that it doesn't help poor students, for example, then it is not demotivating them. They can all be false at the same time, but in fact, they are not all false. Free tuition will hurt private fee-charging colleges. But if it comes to a choice between helping the poor and supporting private colleges, I choose the former.

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