grant program

Rhode Island makes a promise to students

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

Rhode Island is the latest state to announce plans for a College Promise program.

Two weeks ago, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo laid out a proposal for free tuition at state colleges. Now Rhode Island’s Governor Gina Raimondo has announced plans to offer tuition-free education for full-time students at the state’s public postsecondary institutions.

Rhode Island’s Promise would provide two years of free college for every Rhode Island student who graduates on time from the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), Rhode Island College (RIC) and the University of Rhode Island (URI), beginning with high school seniors who graduate this spring.

The plan covers tuition and mandatory fees for full-time students who qualify for in-state tuition earning an associate degree at CCRI. At RIC and URI, the scholarship will cover tuition and fees for a student’s junior and senior years.

“Rhode Island’s Promise honors our commitment to Rhode Island students who are asking for nothing more than a fair chance,” Gov. Raimondo said, during a speech this week at the Ministers Alliance of Rhode Island’s 34th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Breakfast.

Almost 90 percent of Rhode Island 12th graders say that they plan to attend college, yet less than two thirds of students enroll, according to a release from the governor’s office. And students are graduating from Rhode Island’s public colleges with an average debt of more than $35,000, which is the second highest of any state.

“We know that our students face significant financial challenges that can stall or even stop their progress,” CCRI President Meghan Hughes said. “By offering two years of free college to our state’s high school graduates, the Rhode Island’s Promise increases their ability to persist, complete their associate degrees and certificate programs, and pursue a bachelor’s degree and high-quality careers right here in Rhode Island.”

The $30 million cost of the program will be paid for through new revenues.

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AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.