It was just announced today that Rhode Island became the fourth state in the US to make community college free. They join the ranks of New York, Oregon, and Tennessee.
The plan, which is being called the Promise Scholarship, offers a tuition-free associate degree for all Rhode Island high school graduates or GED holders who attend the Community College of Rhode Island. To top it off, the funding is available to all students, regardless of their income.
Unfortunately, what didn’t pass was a proposal that would have extended the program to cover two years at either of Rhode Island’s public four-year colleges, in addition to the community college. But strides of any sort are strides forward.
Want to know who’s eligible for the scholarship? Those who:
- Are state residents who graduated high school or attained their GED the previous spring
- Maintain at least a 2.5 GPA while in college
And that’s about it. Although, like the New York plan, those who take part in the program are required to work, live or continue their education in state. The exact specifics on this (for how any years, etc.) are not yet known, but will come to light soon.
Why You Should Care
It’s always great to hear about states stepping in to pick up the slack where the federal government has refused to go. If enough states pass similar legislation, it increases incentives for other states to follow suit (since it may lure residents across state lines) and, eventually, increases the likelihood that the federal government will create a program as well.
Going to a community college for the first two years of your bachelor’s degree is a great way to reduce your college expenses and, therefore, your total student loan burden. If you can go for free, all the better. All I know is that if and when I ever have kids, I’m going to make sure that I am living in a state that offers some kind of free college tuition, and I fully expect that in the future this will be a major consideration for families deciding where they are going to live and raise a family.
Sources and More Details
Take a look at the story on CNN Money which broke the news earlier today, or the Wall Street Journal article that provides a deeper fiscal analysis (downside, you need a WSJ account):