How do Private Schools Feel About Excelsior Program?

Private schools say SUNY fees, room/board equal private tuition

Tom Puckett
April 11, 2017 - 4:00 am
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Amherst, NY (WBEN) As the state budget includes the Excelsior program offering free tuition to state residents whose families make less than $125,000 a year, private colleges say a delicate balance could be shaken, and have a warning for those willing to take Albany up on it.

"It certainly does upset the delicate balance between the private sector and public sector," says Daemen College President Gary Olson. "Prior to this, colleges in both sectors really collaborated with one another. In fact, we're one of the few states where there's a financial aid system for both public and private."

Olson says while it's not the case at Daemen, there's a possibility private schools may end up folding as a result. "That could have a devastating effect on the local economy that often relies on the college as an employer," adds Olson. 

Olson notes the free tuition program may not be all it's cracked up to be. "When they put the low tuition together with fees and room and board, it's up to $25,000, which is the tuition at Daemen," says Olson. He also warns people not to fall for the word free. "There are so many strings attached. Once you look at all the restrictions, they have to graduate in four years and live in the state, if they don't follow through, the grant could turn into a loan."

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