Southern Brooklyn

Senator Diane Savino Is All For Free Tuition For CUNY And SUNY Students

Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons
State Senator Diane Savino (Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons)

Senator Diane Savino supports more than just looser marijuana laws. She has also come out in support of free tuition of undergraduates in CUNY and SUNY schools.

The idea was first proposed by Assemblyman James Skoufis, and Savino said that if it reached the Senate floor she would sponsor it. Free tuition for CUNY and SUNY students has always been a politically controversial topic, ranging from CUNY students protesting tuition hikes to demanding free education. At one point in the city’s history, CUNY was actually free for a brief period in the 70s and since then there have been frequent calls for a return to free tuition.

If Savino and Skoufis are successful, the free tuition will come with some strings attached, according to a Hudson Valley article:

Under Tuition-Free NY (A8585), students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and math programs would have to perform 125 hours of community service for each year they receive free tuition. All other students benefiting from the program would have to perform 250 hours of community service per year.

In the 70s, free tuition only lasted for six years due to a financial crisis and the threat of the city going into bankruptcy, according to CUNY’s news wire.

Comment policy


  1. ok, but how do we pay for free tuition? income tax increase? sales tax increase? property tax increase? think this through, Savino, then come back to us when you have a real proposal for us to consider, other than just an attention-grabbing headline

  2. We had free tuition in City Colleges until the mid-seventies. Misadventures in city planning made it impossible to continue at that time. I’m sure that the means could be found for doing this without unfairly burdening individuals.

  3. thats fine, but i want her to say it.

    And i dont mean to imply that increased taxes, decreased services, or more efficient use of resources is an unfair burden. Maybe yes maybe no.

    i just want politicians to spell out their ideas so we can understand them

  4. You have it wrong about CUNY only being free for a short period of time. It was conceived of as providing a free college education from the get-go and was free until the City began its economic decline. An educated electorate is necessary for a civilized nation to prosper and only providing free education to the high school level is wrong.

  5. And the most dangerous electorate are a so-called educated electorate who in reality knows nothing, but is only indoctrinated in party rhetoric, told how brilliant they are and set loose into a real world where they will fail but feel empowered to place blame and exact revenge. Cue Mao and the Little Red Books.

    Democrats are very good and giving things that cost fortunes away for “free”. The Santa Claus Effect with the difference being Santa Claus isn’t spending money he doesn’t have and taking it from others.

    The sooner Government intervention is removed from education, the sooner government student loan guarantees, Grants and scholarships are ended, the sooner tuition will reflect market place reality.

    Education in the traditional sense is an anachronism. Within the next 20 years classrooms will be replaced by Smart Phone Applications.

  6. You really should learn more history and sprout less rhetoric. The concept of free education predates Marx, Jefferson, who was one of the founders of the University Of Virginia, desired greatly a “free” school, they kept costs down to make it more affordable. Peter Cooper, a “self-made” millionaire, started Cooper Union, a free school for both the arts and the sciences.

    I suspect that you got to where you are with the help of government, even as you blindly deny this. Of course, to you this hardly matter, you got yours.

  7. If CUNY/SUNY becomes free, they will go out of business in no time. Cooper Union was on the brink of failing before they ended free tuition

  8. Disclaimer: I was a beneficiary of free CUNY education (Brooklyn College, 73-77).

    If government would get out of the zillions of things it shouldn’t be in, perhaps it would be easy to afford such a benefit as this.
    Let’s start by eliminating the agency that’s wants to kill the swans here. Then how about the 5, or was it 8, separate agencies responsible for overseeing small business in sheepshead Bay. Both of these were past articles on this web site.

    I also wonder these days, if the education is free, how many deadbeats will go to college just for something to do. Given free anything, people take it less seriously. Charging money provides an incentive to achieve. Giving it away is as usual, a huge disincentive in society.

  9. CUNY is very competitive these days. Getting in and staying in is not as easy as you would think. People have come to realize that the colleges offer a sold college education without the exorbitant price tag. I graduated from CCNY in 1985 and worked my way through working at Waldbaums and then as an engineering intern with the city. At that time the tuition ranged from about $950 – $1100 per year. Currently, tuition at a senior college is $5,500 per year and i do believe many students receive financial aid.

  10. They had free tuition for 150 years. Recently they had decided to put a lot of the endowment money into development projects. It will take some time before these investments go into the black.

  11. CUNY free for a short time? As Col. Potter on MASH used to say: “Horse puckey”. It was free from the founding of the Free Academy (ancestor of City College) in 1847 until the mid-1970s. When I went to CUNY colleges in the 1960s, you had to have an 85 average for a 4-year school and 75 for community college, but for those of us who made it we got a great bargain. My last year at Hunter (1969-70) cost about $45/semester student fee plus books, subway tokens, and lunch. Of course, older students who weren’t living with their parents had to pay rent.

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