Promise programs pass in two states

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

Rhode Island and Nevada remove a big barrier for community college students.

Rhode Island is the latest state to make community college free.

Last week, lawmakers approved a four-year pilot Promise Scholarship program. The last-dollar scholarship, which will start this fall, will cover both tuition and fees at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) for new students. For the first year, $2.8 million was appropriated from the state’s budget.

To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be state residents and must have graduated high school the previous spring. They also have to enroll at the college full time and maintain a 2.5 GPA. Also, similar to New York’s new tuition-free program, scholarship recipients also must live, work or continue their education in Rhode Island after graduation.

CCRI will likely see an uptick in enrollment. The college will hold sessions about the program.

Gov. Gina Raimondo’s original proposal would have also made two years free at both of the state’s public four-year colleges. That was rejected by lawmakers.

Back in March, Raimondo testified in front of the state’s House Finance Committee about the importance of creating a Promise Scholarship.

“This proposal isn’t about giving something away for free, it’s about guaranteeing access to opportunity and job training for every Rhode Islander,” Raimondo told the committee.

Nevada makes a promise

A lesser publicized Promise program is coming to Nevada. Lawmakers passed the Nevada Promise Program this year, which will benefit students attending community college. Lawmakers set aside $3.1 million for the program.

Beginning with the graduating class of 2018, high school seniors in Nevada can apply for the Nevada Promise Scholarship. The last-dollar scholarship provides up to three years of no-cost registration fees and other mandatory fees to eligible students.

The scholarship could save Nevada families more than $3000 per year.

“The Nevada Promise Scholarship clears the most common barriers to higher education for Nevada’s recent high school graduates,” Scott Morrison, Western Nevada College’s vice president of academic affairs, said in a release.

Students taking advantage of the program must enroll for 12 credits. They also have to complete community service and meet with an assigned mentor. Scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Oregon and Tennessee also have statewide Promise programs. Tennessee’s is expanding to include adults going back to college.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.