New York

Free tuition doesn't mean free college, students point out

  • In this Wednesday Feb. 1, 2017, photo, Brooklyn College students walk between classes on campus in New York. They don't mean to sound ungrateful, but New York public college students who would stand to gain from the nation's most ambitious free-tuition proposal are quick to point out a sobering reality from their own meager finances: Free tuition doesn't mean free college. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

    In this Wednesday Feb. 1, 2017, photo, Brooklyn College students walk between classes on campus in New York. They don't mean to sound ungrateful, but New York public college students who would stand to gain from the nation's most ambitious free-tuition proposal are quick to point out a sobering reality from their own meager finances: Free tuition doesn't mean free college. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Wednesday Feb. 1, 2017, photo, Brooklyn College students walk between classes on campus in New York. The students say a proposal to make college tuition-free for middle-class students at New York public universities would provide welcome financial help, but note that free tuition doesn't mean free college because of the expense of things like room and board and books. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

    In this Wednesday Feb. 1, 2017, photo, Brooklyn College students walk between classes on campus in New York. The students say a proposal to make college tuition-free for middle-class students at New York public universities would provide welcome financial help, but note that free tuition doesn't mean free college because of the expense of things like room and board and books. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Wednesday Feb. 1, 2017, photo, Brooklyn College students walk between classes on campus in New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed making the public college and others in the State University of New York and City University of New York system tuition-free for full-time students from New York families earning $125,000 or less. The state would pay the difference between financial aid and tuition. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

    In this Wednesday Feb. 1, 2017, photo, Brooklyn College students walk between classes on campus in New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed making the public college and others in the State University of New York and City University of New York system tuition-free for full-time students from New York families earning $125,000 or less. The state would pay the difference between financial aid and tuition. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)  (The Associated Press)

They don't mean to sound ungrateful, but ... New York public college students who stand to gain from the nation's most ambitious free-tuition proposal point to a sobering reality: Free tuition doesn't mean free college.

Students tell The Associated Press tuition help is welcome but the $6,500-a-year expense is only about a third of the total bill when things like housing and books are added.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal would pay the difference between financial aid and tuition at public colleges for students whose families earn $125,000 or less.

Cuomo's office says the goal is to provide the most students with the greatest opportunity.

The New York proposal is one of an increasing number of plans across the country aimed at the nation's $1.2 trillion in student debt.