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Financial Focus: Can College Be Free, Again?

College students from all over New York are protesting Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State, requesting that college education be like it was before 1976: free. Today, more than 40 years later, it costs about, minimum, $6,000 a year.

So is it worth funding the system with your tax dollars? At 200,000 students per year going through the CUNY, that will be $1.2 billion a year. Is a public education worth this cost as a state and can we make it cheaper?

If my memory serves, in 1986, I paid $1,200 a year. Based on current inflation, this would now be $1,920 a year in 2017. While $1,920 might be more fiscally reasonable, this is a 175 percent below cost dollar figure. So now you get an idea on why college costs have gone through the roof the last 30 years.

An old study bears this out even more. In 1986, a community organization, The Committee for Equality in Education, conducted a study in TAP financial aid costs to the public university system. They found out at that time that it costs $1.40 to administer every $1 in aid. Based on inflation, that $1.40 (a 29 percent increase) is now, in 2017, $2.24, a 145 percent increase.

What brought these administrative costs? People, offices, supplies, equipment, rent–all costs involved to administer–the same dollar.

So while financial aid or other grant programs might help to initially offset the college costs, eventually they create the bureaucracy and government waste that eventually make costs go up.

So, if we really want a free college education today, I think we have to accept two choices: either pay the school, via the state, the money direct, $1.2 billion to operate the school, now at $6,000 per student or let’s be real non-greedy New Yorkers, and charge the student and or family direct, the real cost, $1,920 a year, and get rid of TAP–a decrease of 68 percent in costs.

Or maybe we have a third. If you get rid of TAP, then why not charge the state the $1,920 a year versus the $6,000? The state can save 68 percent and maybe apply the savings to more public school services.

Anthony Rivieccio is the founder and CEO of The Financial Advisors Group, celebrating its 20th year as a fee-only financial planning firm specializing in solving financial problems. Mr. Rivieccio, a recognized financial expert since 1986, has been featured by many national and local media including: Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, The New York Post, News 12 The Bronx, Bloomberg News Radio, BronxNet Television, the Norwood News, The West Side Manhattan Gazette, Labor Press Magazine, Financial Planning Magazine, WINS 1010 Radio, The Bronx News, and The Bronx Chronicle. Mr. RIvieccio is also a current Instructor for Certified Financial Planning (CFP) classes at Lehman/ CUNY College. For financial assistance or a FREE 2017 Income Tax Analysis. Mr. Rivieccio can be reached at (347) 575-5045.

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