Letter: Tuition-free college program should be expanded to cover housing and food

The Excelsior Scholarship fails to cover a majority of college costs such as housing and food.

While the Excelsior Scholarship is a small relief for the few students who manage to jump through enough hoops to finally get their hands on their promised money, it still fails to cover the majority of student costs such as housing and food. Tuition is often the cheapest part of a SUNY education, and for students who are already food insecure and struggling to cover housing costs, Excelsior is a drop in the bucket.

A study done by NYPIRG on food insecurity among college students revealed some alarming statistics, which speak to the issue of Excelsior failing to help with housing and food costs. Forty-eight percent of those surveyed by NYPIRG reported experiencing some type of housing insecurity and 64% were food insecure. Additionally, food insecurity is more prevalent among students of color, “57% of black or African American students reported food insecurity, compared to 40% of non-hispanic white students.” Parent’s education also contributed to student struggle, the NYPIRG report found that more than half of all first generation students were food insecure.


We must demand a policy from New York State that aids students in meeting their most basic needs, food and shelter. Gaining higher education can be very difficult when one has to worry about where they are going to stay and what they are going to eat. We must pressure Governor Cuomo to sign the Maintenance of Effort bill, requiring NYS to cover their portion of public education, which will help students pay for college. New York should also come up with a program that aids students who need it to get help with housing and food costs.

Sarah Pulinski, intern with NYPIRG
SUNY New Paltz

There are 6 comments

  1. nom sayin'

    We should aim to return to the days when working all summer and part-time during the semester was enough to pay for an undergraduate education, debt-free, at least at a state university. My quick estimate of that is about $10,000 a year. That IS actually possible if a student lives a monastic scholarly existence rather than having “the full college experience.” Probably too much to ask.

  2. Broke Joe

    How about clothes and shoes? Can’t go to class barefoot. Haitcuts, manicures and massages? And let’s not forget cab fare to and from your free housing.

  3. Already paying too much taxes

    What are you nuts ? My taxes in NYS are already huge ! ! Why can’t they save and pay for some of it themselves. And some parents can afford to pay for their child to go to college or at least part of it.
    Why these students live at home while going to college where room and board is free ? ? There are at least 6 great colleges within driving distance of New Paltz ! !

  4. Chris

    Free food and housing for all! Plus, you’ll need a car, gas, insurance and repairs. As Broke Joe noted, the poor bloke needs some good clothes, too. May as well get him/her a boyfriend/girlfriend of their choice while we’re at it. Free health insurance, telephone and some open space to do a little navel grazing. I’m sure there is something I’ve forgotten………………..oh yeah. Personal responsibility.

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