Tuition plan touted at FMCC

JOHNSTOWN – On Monday, Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara was joined by Assemblyman James Skoufis – author of the Tuition-Free NY legislation – at Fulton-Montgomery Community College to explain details of the tuition initiative to students, professors and members of the community.

The proposed legislation would provide free tuition to all New York students at State University of New York schools, while requiring students to fulfill community service and residency requirements.

“The skyrocketing cost of college is pushing higher education out of reach for many working families,” Santabarbara – whose district includes Montgomery County – said in a news release. “We need to change the equation so students can afford the higher education they need to land a good job after graduation.”

Under the proposed plan, students would be required to perform a minimum of 250 hours of community service each year to be eligible. Students enrolled in a designated science, technology, engineering or math degree program would have a reduced community service requirement of 125 hours.

Additionally, students would be required to live and work in the state for a period of at least five years after graduation.

“Tuition-Free NY would provide an avenue for students to pursue their college education debt-free,” Dustin Swanger, president of FMCC, said in the release. “At the same time, it would encourage students to give back to their communities through volunteer service and follow career paths into many of the fields that are driving the 21st century economy.”

The cost of attending college has risen almost four times faster than median incomes over the past 20 years, making college unaffordable for millions of New Yorkers. About 60 percent of students graduate with debt averaging more than $25,000, and many leave school with much higher debt, the release said.