By Eliza Shapiro, Keshia Clukey and Conor Skelding | 04/20/2017 09:57 AM EDT

TUITION PLAN SHOWDOWN CONTINUES: Village Voice finds plan full of "risky loopholes" — Village Voice's Alexandria Neason: "Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to waive tuition fees for lower- and middle-income New Yorkers at any two- or four-year public college in the state, touted as the first of its kind in a nation drowning in student debt, has emerged from the state budget brawl and is set to go into effect beginning this fall. 'Today, my friends, college is what high school was seventy years ago — it is not a luxury, it is a necessity,' the governor said last week at a signing ceremony at LaGuardia Community College. But the final version of the Excelsior Scholarship program, which will cost the state $163 million a year once it's fully phased in by 2019, comes with some unexpected and alarming caveats. For starters, it now includes a requirement that students live and work full-time in New York State for as many years after graduation as they received aid; otherwise, the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation will convert the scholarship money into a no-interest loan that students will have to repay. The state senate and private-college officials across the state also pushed for and received a provision for private-college students to receive up to $3,000 per year in Tuition Assistance Program grants — which must also be repaid if they don't live and work in the state after graduation.

That's a mistake , says Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher education policy at Temple University who has advocated for free-college initiatives. The requirement could leave Excelsior recipients unable to pursue job opportunities elsewhere, forcing them to remain in New York to avoid debt even if it means unemployment. The allure of a free education, Goldrick-Rab warns, could ultimately spell disaster two or four years down the road. 'People will believe that they'll be able to fulfill the terms,' she says. 'It will only be after graduation [when] something happens — it might be the best job offer is out of state, or that they can't find one in the state and have to look somewhere else, or their grandmother gets sick — at the last moment they're going to find out that New York expects to be paid back.'" Read more here.

— SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and CUNY Chancellor James Milliken defended the plan in an op-ed for the Daily News. Read it here.

— Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said that he and first lady Chirlane McCray had "very little money in our life" because their son, Dante, went to college, was asked Wednesday by Hot 97's Ebro Darden whether he qualified for "this new free state school stuff." The mayor replied, "He's going to a very fine school." (That would be Yale. Also, they make too much money to qualify for Excelsior.)

GOOD THURSDAY MORNING. Carmen Fariña and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will visit P.S. 516 in Brooklyn for Pre-K for All Acceptance Day. The City Council Committee on Higher Education will hold an oversight hearing on a CUNY remediation program. MaryEllen Elia and Betty Rosa and did not release public schedules.

This newsletter is for you, so tell us how we can make it better. Send feedback, tips and education-related events to, and Follow us on Twitter: @elizashapiro, @keshiaclukey, and @conorskelding.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "On the situation with the deputy mayor, there is a review going on. I don't have the chapter and verse on who's doing it. I do know it'll take a little while." — Bill de Blasio, on a New York Post report that Deputy Mayor Richard Buery "pulled strings" to get his son into a popular Park Slope middle school.

BUDGET ANALYSIS: The state's budget leaves intact "an inequitable pattern of shortchanging poorer school districts and rewarding wealthier ones," according to a Citizen's Budget Commissioner report released Wednesday. The state's $153.1 billion budget includes approximately $25.8 billion in education aid, an increase of about $1.1 billion, or 4.4 percent, over 2016-17. Though the budget included an approximately $700 million increase in Foundation aid and had a few changes updating the decade-old Foundation Aid formula, it did not include plans for fully phasing it in, which state education leaders say would add an additional $4.3 billion to districts statewide. — POLITICO New York's Keshia Clukey. Read the analysis here.

BUFFALO SCHOOLS FACING $10.2M DEFICIT — Buffalo News' Tiffany Lankes: "Going into the budget season, Buffalo school leaders had two options to prevent a budget crisis - find more money or make cuts. The first option isn't panning out as they hoped, with funding increases from the city and state falling $33 million short of what Superintendent Kriner Cash wanted." Read more here.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: CUNY Chancellor James Milliken outlines the system's new "strategic framework," intended to double community college students' graduation rates and increase senior college rates by 10 percent, among other aims. Watch here.

PALADINO PROTESTS CONTINUE — Buffalo News' Tiffany Lankes: "Protesters once again interrupted the monthly meeting of the Buffalo School Board, saying they will continue to disrupt proceedings until Carl P. Paladino is removed from his elected position for making racially charged comments." Read more here.


— "Controversial disciplinary changes aimed at reducing suspensions and improving school climate took effect Wednesday, Chancellor Carmen Fariña said. Fariña told families and educators of the long-awaited overhaul in letters sent to schools and home with the students." New York Daily News' Ben Chapman. Read more here.

— "The principal of an elementary school in East New York, Brooklyn, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with assault, accused of hitting and kicking a 7-year-old boy last month." New York Times' Kate Taylor. Read more here.

— "A small number of contested school board races means less work for us at The Post-Star, but it is bad for democracy. Only five out of 24 school board races in the news coverage area are competitive." Post-Star's Michael Goot. Read more here.

— "It all started with a song — a drunk college student's version of '99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.' That's what Asha Burwell recalled about her now infamous fight on a packed CDTA bus last January in a police interview captured on video just after the incident. The video of the former University at Albany student speaking to an Albany police investigator was played for a jury Wednesday morning on the third day of a trial in which the Albany County District Attorney's office will attempt to prove that Burwell and her friends lied about being the victims of a hate crime when they themselves were the aggressors." Times Union's Bethany Bump. Read more here.

— "A day after the release of a shocking report on sexual misconduct by faculty at Troy's Emma Willard School, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she was 'deeply disturbed and outraged' by the account of decades of abuse and cover-up." Times Union's Casey Seiler. Read more here.


— The state's largest teachers union has made no secret of the fact it wants Stephen Sweeney out as Senate president. ... A labor leader himself[,] ... Sweeney still commands support from a number of labor groups. ... It's a tightrope the union is walking, some political observers say, with the potential for alienating elected officials if Democratic lawmakers perceive the [New Jersey Education Association] as trying to dictate how they should vote ... [in] selecting their leader." POLITICO New Jersey's Linh Tat. Read more here.

— The board of the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority on Wednesday approved resolutions to forgive certain loan obligations in the event a student dies or becomes permanently disabled, and to defer payments if the person is temporarily disabled. POLITICO New Jersey's Linh Tat. Read more here.


— Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten — longtime combatants in the nation's school wars — will converge Thursday on a small Ohio school district deep in Trump country where, amid forced pleasantries, they'll seek to score political points. POLITICO's Caitlin Emma. Read more here.

— "Trustees of the Whittier Law School [in Costa Mesa, Calif.] said Wednesday that it would close down, making it the first fully accredited law school in the country to shut at a time when many law schools are struggling amid steep declines in enrollment and tuition income." New York Times' Elizabeth Olson. Read more here.

STUDY UP: "Fewer provosts are becoming presidents and more deans are jumping straight to the presidency, according to new report that also includes an intriguing list of universities that are presidential talent factories." Inside Higher Education's Rick Seltzer. Read more here.

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