House lawmakers vote to codify RI Promise program into state law

Education
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The R.I. House of Representatives approved legislation Thursday that would enshrine the R.I. Promise program into state law.

The R.I. Promise program provides two years of free tuition for eligible residents to the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI). It is currently set to expire in September.

The bill is sponsored by R.I. House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio. If signed into law, the bill would eliminate the program’s expiration date and make it permanent.

“The promise program is an excellent example of how we can prioritize affordable college options for all Rhode Islanders,” Shekarchi said. “The best investment we can make to help individuals achieve their goals is to give them the access to a college education, which is the pathway to a brighter future.”

To keep the scholarship, students must be full-time to qualify for in-state tuition, maintain at least a 2.5 GPA and remain on track to graduate on time. It funds only the remaining costs of tuition and mandatory student fees after scholarship funding is factored in.

When originally proposed by Gov. Gina Raimondo in 2017, the program was set to expire with the class that graduated high school in 2020, but the R.I. General Assembly included an expansion in the this year’s budget that would offer the program to students who are currently high school seniors.

The R.I. Promise program costs roughly $7 million per year.

The legislation returns to the Senate for consideration, though it had already passed last month.

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