First, there was the Rhode Island Promise scholarship at the Community College of Rhode Island. Now there’s the Hope Scholarship at Rhode Island College.
The numbers are in, and there are 207 students at RIC who started receiving free tuition at RIC through the new Hope Scholarship this fall, part of a program launched by Governor Dan McKee and approved by the General Assembly earlier this year.
The Hope Scholarship is RIC’s version of the Promise scholarship, which offers two years of free tuition at CCRI to all new high school graduates. At RIC, students are required to pay tuition for their freshman and sophomore years, but they are eligible to go to school for free during their final two years as long as they are a Rhode Island resident, maintain a 2.5 grade point average, and have 60 credits under their belt. Adult learners who are age 24 or older are also eligible for the program.
The scholarship also requires students to commit to living, working, or continuing their education in Rhode Island after they graduate, although there aren’t any penalties associated with moving away (the vast majority of RIC graduates stay in the state).
Like Rhode Island Promise at CCRI, the program offers what are known as “last-dollar” scholarships, which means students are required to use all forms of non-loan financial aid and other scholarships before the state covers any remaining costs.
John Taraborelli, a spokesman at RIC, said there are 321 students eligible for the Hope scholarship this year, but only 207 needed tuition assistance. The others already had grants and scholarships paying for their tuition.
RIC spent the summer heavily promoting the Hope Scholarship, and officials are hopeful that the offer of two years of no tuition will boost enrollment in the coming years.
Overall enrollment at RIC this fall is at 5,784, nearly identical to the same point last year. But new undergraduate registration was up 17.7 percent compared to last year, according to the college.
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