PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Legislation that would enshrine the R.I. Promise program into state law is now in the hands of Gov. Dan McKee.

The R.I. General Assembly approved the bill Tuesday, sending it to the governor’s desk for his signature.

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

If signed into law, the bill would eliminate the program’s expiration date and make it permanent.

“Higher education is more necessary than ever before, and it has to be available and affordable for all Rhode Islanders,” Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said. “Rhode Island Promise is a great program that has proven itself effective, and we strongly support making it a permanent resource for students.”

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 promise program is an excellent example of how we can prioritize affordable college options for all Rhode Islanders,” House Speaker Joseph 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.”

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