CPC Celebrates RI Free Community College Legislation

CPC Celebrates RI Free Community College Legislation

On Thursday evening, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) signed legislation making a community college education free for the state’s recent high school graduates. Under the $2.8 million pilot program, high school graduates from the class of 2017 will be able to attend any of the state’s three community college campuses for two years without paying tuition and fees beginning this fall. The measure was passed as part of the state’s 9.2 billion FY 2018 budget. The vote was 29-to-5.

“The College Promise Campaign is delighted that Rhode Island has joined the rapidly growing list of states and communities expanding opportunity for students to complete an undergraduate degree or technical certificate without bearing the burden of unmanageable college debt,” said Dr. Martha Kanter, Executive Director of the College Promise Campaign. “This new pilot program provides educational opportunity for many who never imagined they could afford to go to college. With access to affordable higher education, all hardworking students in Rhode Island can get the community college education and training they need for the workforce. A high school education is no longer enough.”

The governor’s tuition-free plan faced several alterations as it made its way through the Rhode Island State Legislature. The final version funds two years of tuition and fees for Ocean State residents attending the Community College of Rhode Island. Gov. Raimondo’s original proposal would have allowed students to receive free tuition either at community college or to finish the last two years at any of the Rhode Island’s publicly funded colleges.

“When I was my kids’ age, most jobs in Rhode Island required nothing more than a high school degree. But, for my kids and yours, that’s not the case anymore, “ said Gov. Gina Raimondo when she first proposed the free college plan in her State of the State Address in January. “The reality is that most jobs being created now in Rhode Island will require some degree or certificate beyond a high school diploma, said Raimondo.”Our job is to ensure that there is opportunity for every Rhode Islander who is willing to work for it. Our job is to ensure that Rhode Islanders are getting the jobs businesses are creating.”

Rhode Island now joins the list of ten states that have passed legislation for students to attend community colleges or technical schools without paying tuition or fees. Just this year state legislatures in New York, Hawaii, Arkansas, and Nevada passed versions of statewide free college legislation. The College Promise movement is growing rapidly as more programs are being proposed, implemented, and expanded in communities all across the country. More than 200 programs in 40 states are now in place, including statewide programs in Tennessee, Delaware, Oregon, Indiana, Kentucky, and Minnesota.


About the College Promise Campaign:

The College Promise Campaign is a nonpartisan, nonprofit higher education initiative that builds widespread support for funding the first two years of a community college education for all hardworking students. Chaired by Dr. Jill Biden and former Governor Jim Geringer (R-WY), the Campaign works to build broad public support that community college education is an investment in America’s future and a necessary continuation of K-12 education. In the 21st century, a high school diploma is no longer enough to lead Americans to a good job and decent quality of life. CPC is an initiative of Civic Nation, a 501(c)(3) organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. Learn more about the College Promise and the Campaign at CollegePromise.org.


Contact: Andra Armstrong, Senior Strategist

Phone: (202) 827-6720

Email: andra@civicnation.org

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