Message from the President: Cuomo's plan to expand tuition assistance should include all of NY's college students

Message from the President

Friday, January 6, 2017

Peace and every good.

Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo called for free tuition at New York’s public colleges for students whose families earn less than $125,000. Students would receive an Excelsior Scholarship in addition to their Pell and TAP grants.

While I am pleased to see college affordability prioritized, the additional tuition assistance should be extended to all of New York’s college students, regardless of whether they attend a public or private institution. This has always been the case for our state’s major financial aid programs. Allowing students to choose a college based on where they will excel—and not solely on free tuition—is the right thing to do.

It would also make a bigger impact. The median income for families of Siena students is $100,600, which is below the proposed income limit. These students graduate in four years at a higher rate than their SUNY counterparts (74% vs. 50%). They earn higher salaries after graduation ($54,200 vs. $43,606). They are less likely to default on their student loans (1.7% vs. 9.7% default rate). And more than 63 percent stay in New York after earning their degree.

Simply put, Siena students—and their counterparts at other private colleges—are a smart investment for New York State.


Br. Ed Coughlin, O.F.M.
President, Siena College