Team Cuomo has put out a gag order: State university financial-aid offices can’t tell the press anything about how the Excelsior Scholarship program is working. Plainly, Gov. Cuomo doesn’t want any pesky facts undermining the “free college” TV ads his campaign is now airing.
The gag notice went out after Sarah Buell of Erie Community College complained at a public meeting that Excelsior is in disarray. Now, reports the Albany Times Union, SUNY officials can only read from a statement issued by Chancellor Kristina Johnson.
“We have gone months without formal written guidance,” Buell said. “We are essentially, in our 64 campuses, establishing 64 different versions of this program.”
Some 23,000 students are expected to receive Excelsior aid this year, but many applicants aren’t sure what the program provides or what they must do to keep the scholarship. Some haven’t even heard back — and classes start in just a few weeks.
But Cuomo’s getting what he most wants: commercials touting his virtue. And never mind that his campaign had to end-run the laws on student privacy to recruit the kids for those ads.
That’s how this governor rolls: Anything that gets in the way of sending his message is an inconvenience to be ignored — or a dissenter to be squelched.
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