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BCW Joins Effort Urging Cuomo to Reconsider Free Tuition Plan

From left, Vanessa Herman, Assistant VP for Government & Community Relations, Pace University; Rob Gilmore, Director of Financial Aid, Manhattanville College; Nikhil Kumar, VP of Undergraduate Enrollment, Manhattanville College; Dr. Joseph Nyre, President, Iona College; Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino; Fr. Joseph McShane, President, Fordham University; Lesley Massiah-Arthur, V.P. of Intergovernmental Relations and Urban Affairs, Fordham University, and John Ravitz, Executive VP and COO, Business Council of Westchester.

Joining with Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and representatives of private schools in Westchester on March 24, The Business Council of Westchester continued its push to convince Governor Andrew Cuomo to delay action on his tuition plan set to be approved as part of the state budget April 1.

BCW Executive Vice President and COO John Ravitz said Cuomo’s plan to offer free tuition to some students who attend state schools would have a dire impact on private schools. With so many private schools in Westchester that stand to lose enrollment under Cuomo’s plan, the BCW began a campaign to support schools soon after Cuomo announced his plans in January.

“As soon as we learned of this plan we met with private colleges to discuss what we could do to advocate for them,’’ said Ravitz, who attended last week’s press conference with Astorino and college representatives at Pace University in Pleasantville. “Cuomo’s plan would have serious unintended consequences for private schools which stand to lose enrollment, causing the county to lose as many as 5,000 jobs. We think that the Governor should withdraw his plan until this issue can be addressed.’’

Under the governor’s plan, college students who have been accepted to a public university or community college in New York would be eligible for free tuition, provided they or their family earns $125,000 or less a year. However, low-income students attending private universities risk losing all state aid if their college increases tuition past a set index that is determined by the state.

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