Senator Pearson introduces bill to create Rhode Island Hope Scholarship Pilot Program


STATE HOUSE — Senate Majority Leader Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln) has introduced the Rhode Island Hope Scholarship Pilot Program Act in an effort to make higher education more accessible to all Rhode Islanders.

The purpose of the scholarship legislation (2023-S 0077) would be to increase the number of students enrolling in and obtaining degrees in a timely fashion from Rhode Island College and to promote more graduates in high-need fields and the trades.

Senator Pearson, who has been in the vanguard of education reform in the Senate, said, “Higher education and workforce development in this state will rely more and more heavily on Rhode Island College. If we’re going to be able to staff those critical careers, such as education and nursing, then it is imperative that we make this investment in our future.”

The Hope Scholarship would provide the cost of two years of tuition and mandatory fees for eligible students during their junior and senior years at Rhode Island College.

The act would include detailed eligibility requirements for students as well as reporting and disbursement requirements. Applicants would have to qualify for in-state tuition and fees; be currently enrolled as a full-time student who has declared a major; enroll or have enrolled full-time as a freshman as a first-time student and continue to be enrolled on a full-time basis at Rhode Island College; maintain an average annual cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or greater; remain on track to graduate on time; and commit to live, work or continue their education in Rhode Island after graduation.

In addition, the act would permit charitable donations to the scholarship program as well as an annual appropriation by the General Assembly.

The legislation, which is cosponsored by Senators Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick), Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton, Little Compton), Samuel D. Zurier (D-Dist. 3, Providence), Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield), Tiara Mack (D-Dist. 6, Providence) and Bridget Valverde (D-Dist. 35, East Greenwich, North Kingstown, South Kingstown), has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee. Similar legislation (2023-H 5009) has been introduced in the House by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston).