House passes legislation making RI Promise program permanent


STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today approved legislation (2021-H 5224) sponsored by House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi to permanently enact the Rhode Island Promise program, which provides up to two years of free tuition for eligible Rhode Islanders at Community College of Rhode Island.

The program is currently set to expire with the class entering CCRI in September 2021. Speaker Shekarchi’s bill would remove the sunset provision altogether, making the program permanent.

“The Promise program is an excellent example of how we can prioritize affordable college options for all Rhode Islanders. 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,” said Speaker Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick).

The program was proposed by Gov. Gina Raimondo in 2017, and is open only to students graduating high school who begin CCRI the following fall. To keep the scholarship, they must be full-time students who qualify for in-state tuition, maintain at least a 2.5 GPA, and remain on track to graduate on time. As a “last-dollar” scholarship program, it funds only the remaining costs of tuition and mandatory student fees after Pell Grants and other sources of scholarship funding are factored in.

When originally proposed, Rhode Island Promise had a sunset provision that would have made it expire with the class that graduated high school in 2020 and entered CCRI that fall. The General Assembly included an expansion in the 2021 budget, extending to the program for students who are currently high school seniors. With the passage of Speaker Shekarchi’s legislation, the program would be available to students in perpetuity.  It currently costs approximately $7 million per year.

The legislation is cosponsored by Representatives Grace Diaz, Gregg M. Amore, Jacquelyn Baginski, Majority Leader Christopher R. Blazejewski, Majority Whip Katherine Kazarian, and Representatives Brandon C. Potter, Leonela Felix, Nathan W. Biah, and Jose F. Batista.

The measure now moves to the Senate, where companion legislation (2021-S 0079) was introduced by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and was passed by the full Senate on April 13, 2021.



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