Rhode Island approves free community college

Rhode Island will begin offering tuition-free community college to residents after a recent vote from lawmakers on the proposal, writes Ray Downs for United Press International.

Governor Gina Raimondo (D) proposed the measure, called Rhode Island Promise, earlier this year. At the time, about 68% of Rhode Islanders supported the idea and 32% opposed it, according to a survey by the Providence Journal. Because about 70% of Rhode Island's jobs require postsecondary degrees, state officials feel an urgent need to increase the number of local college graduates.

The recent vote by lawmakers is going to fund free-tuition for community college in the state for one year, making Rhode Island the fourth state in the nation to offer tuition-free community college. The eligibility requirements are similar to those in other states. Residents must graduate from high school with at least a 2.5 GPA and plan on attending community college as a full-time student, writes Downs. However, there are no income caps to be eligible.

The Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) is the sole community college in the state. According to Downs, the institution was already planning on offering tuition-free education to its students. "We're absolutely prepared to serve any student who wants to take classes here," says ‎Patrick Stone, director of marketing and communications at CCRI.

Governor Raimondo initially wanted four-year public universities in the state to be covered by the program as well, but lawmakers in the state voted down that plan, writes Downs. Rhode Island is the fourth state to offer free tuition at its public institutions (Downs, United Press International, 8/3).

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