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Proposal provides free SUNY tuition in exchange for community service

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Albany/HV: Proposal provides free SUNY tuition in exchange for community service
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It's a proposal that could mean free college tuition for everyone in New York State. Time Warner Cable News reporter Barry Wygel spoke to the sponsors of the legislation to see if it's a plan that could actually work.

NEW YORK -- It might sound too good to be true, but a new bill being debated in the Assembly aims to make tuition-free college a reality.

"College affordability was one of my top priorities. I started working on this bill, it took some time many months," said Assemblyman James Skoufis.

The program would give New York residents free SUNY tuition in exchange for 250 hours of community service a year and the requirement that students stay in New York for five years after graduation.

"This should be a priority. This should be something we commit to funding," said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara ."

The 40 co-sponsors of the bill say it makes complete fiscal sense. To pay for the estimated half-million students tuition would cost about $1 billion dollars, or 1 percent of the state's operating budget. In exchange, the sponsors say they will get $3 billion dollars worth of community service hours, in addition to the sales and property tax revenue generated by students who have graduated.

The program probably won't be a tough sell to the students who will take advantage of it, but that doesn't mean there aren't questions that need to be answered.

"I have some questions, sure, how does this affect TAP, is it income eligible. I think there are questions, but it's an important discussion to have," said FMCC President Dustin Swanger.

Most of those questions will be hashed out in the Capitol. The bill currently sits in the Assembly Higher Education Committee, and supporters hope to get it to the floor for a vote by the end of the legislative session.

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