NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Excelsior scholarship is the country’s biggest ever free college tuition program, and it would offer free tuition at two- and four-year colleges in New York state.

But as WCBS 880’s Myles Miller reported, the program also comes with some big catches. It only pays for half of the cost of attending college, and requires students to attend college full time.

And by far the biggest caveat is that graduates must stay in New York state post-graduation for the same period of time that they were in school.

Temple University education policy professor Sara Goldrick-Rab said questioned the policy.

“Why wouldn’t New York want them to keep living in New York, take the higher paid job in New Jersey, and pay taxes in New York?” she said.

Goldrick-Rab said if scholarship recipients choose to leave the state, the scholarship becomes a loan.

Some are also concerned that the new program could be a smokescreen for a backdoor tuition hike, amounting to $200 per year over the next five years, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported on Monday. Others say they’re worried about exploding admissions.

Experts also say statistics show a college education translates into a job, and that Albany can do more to help.

“It’s a good start, but it doesn’t cover room and board,” Lisa Tyson from the Long Island Progressive Coalition said Monday. “Most students need room and board, that’s where the big expenses are. So really a good start, but not enough.”

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