On Thursday, the legislation of Rhode Island passed a law making Community College tuition-free for the upcoming fall semester through a program called the "The Promise Scholarship." There will be a $2.8 million budget for the first year of the four-year deal.

Signed into law

Democratic governor, Gina Raimondo, immediately signed the bill into law following the state Senate's vote after a month of no progression on moving the bill forward, following a defeated bill proposing free tuition for the first two years at the state's public four year schools on top of tuition-free education at community college that was Governor Raimondo's idea.

This tuition-free bill will join New York, Tennessee, Oregon, and states with similar programs as the few that offer free education to residents looking to further their education by supplementing additional grants and scholarships awarded to students to cover additional fees such as books, technology fees, parking, etc. Rhode Island will be the fourth state to have tuition-free community colleges, and Tennessee seems to be leading the way by offering free tuition to all students within the upcoming year.

This bill will pay for all tuition at the community colleges, regardless of the student's household income or financial need. The $208 fee charged to students each semester on top of all other fees will be covered as well. This scholarship is offered to any high school senior that graduated within the previous semester, are enrolled full-time, and maintains a 2.5 GPA.

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1,200-1,300 students will receive tuition-free education through the scholarship during the fall semester and it is believed an additional 200 students will enroll at the Community College of Rhode Island due to the new policy.

The Catch

Amongst one of the more progressive tuition-free programs, the scholarship requires students to agree to live and work within the state of Rhode Island for some years after receiving it. Despite this being the catch to the scholarship, its helping pave the road to provide free college for all and make higher education more accessible. The scholarship will also exclude most of Rhode Island's only community colleges' students, which is about 15,000, due to the availability being for recent high school graduates within the state. However, it seems to be just the first step by the Rhode Island legislation to make college affordable.