The Dallas Morning News

No tuition — if you don’t leave

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ALBANY, N.Y. — There’s a big string attached to New York’s free middle-class college tuition initiative: Students must stay in the state after graduation or else pay back the benefit.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that the requiremen­t was added to protect the state’s investment in students’ education by ensuring they don’t take advantage of free tuition and then leave New York.

The tuition initiative, which Cuomo said is a national model, covers state college or university tuition for in-state students from families earning $125,000 or less. Students must remain in New York for as many years as they received the benefit. They must repay the money as a loan if they take a job in another state.

“Why should New Yorkers pay for your college education and then you pick up and you move to California?” Cuomo said during a call with state editorial writers. ”

Students at University at Albany, part of the state university system, aren’t so sure.

“I don’t know how much I like feeling confined, even to staying in the state for four more years,” said Bobby Rickard, an 18-year-old freshman from Brewster who has not yet decided his major.

Students who receive free tuition and then leave the state for an advanced degree won’t have to pay the money back if they return to New York once they complete their graduate studies. State officials also plan to make accommodat­ions for graduates who leave the state for military service.

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