Another Governor Pushing for Free College Tuition?

Another Governor Pushing for Free College Tuition?
Susan Dutca-Lovell

Prospective Rhode Island college students may score two years of free college with Governor Gina M. Raimondo's $30 million plan, Rhode Island's Promise. Beginning with the class of 2017, the plan would foot full tuition bills and mandatory fees, according to Inside Higher Ed.

In an effort to "knock down the financial barriers to obtaining a college degree," Gov. Raimondo's proposed plan would be open to full-time students who qualify for in-state tuition, while graduating on time from the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and the University of Rhode Island. At RIU and URI, the scholarships will cover collegiate junior and senior years. Students at the Community College of Rhode Island will not be able to participate at four-year institutions without a waiver and having completed 60 credits by the end of their second year, declared a major, and maintained a minimum 2.0 GPA.

In order to qualify for the program - beginning with the class of 2017 - all high school seniors must graduate from either a public or private school in Rhode Island, complete a home school program or obtain a GED prior to turning 19, and enroll the immediate fall semester following their graduation. Furthermore, students must complete a FAFSA and qualify for in-state tuition.

Raimondo's FY18 $30 million budget has been made possible "thanks to tough fiscal choices the state has made." Private colleges have not yet been included in the plan, but the program could be an excellent sales tool for Rhode Island. Currently, only 5 percent of students at CCRI earn their associate degree within two years; only 14 percent earn their bachelor’s degree in four years at RIU and only 49 percent of students earn their bachelors in four years at URI.

Rhode Island is not the only state to propose such a program, New York has also proposed free college tuition for residents. Do you believe this free college tuition is financially feasible? Do you support this plan? Why or why not?

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