Newsday recently published letters from people who benefited from receiving a free or reduced-cost education at New York colleges [“Risks and benefits of free state tuition,” Feb. 6]. It was their opinion that tuition-free education at public colleges should continue to be available.

What the letters did not mention is that pupils chosen to receive admission to these city colleges had to be at the very top of their classes academically.

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I graduated from a Bronx high school in 1952, and I would love to have had the opportunity to enroll in a New York City college — not only because tuition was free, but because a degree from one of these schools was highly coveted. Unfortunately, my grades made it impossible, and I was forced to pay tuition at a different college.

Without this kind of selectivity, I wonder how much a degree from these colleges would be worth.

Thomas Focone, Stony Brook