Free Tuition For All, Rhode Island Governor Says
Jan 23, 2017 11:38 AM EST
Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo is pushing to make Rhode Island the first state to have free tuition for all students who want to go to college. The idea sparked on the Rhode Island governor during the presidential race.
During the campaign, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont raised the idea of a free tuition for all students at public colleges and Universities. Following Sanders' proposal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged earlier this month to cover tuition costs to college students who have been accepted to a state or city university in New York, provided that they or their family earns at least $125,000 per year. Seemingly, this idea can now be tested in the smallest state.
Raimondo's proposal would give in-state residents two years of free tuition at public colleges. For the cost, she described it as a $30 million "drop in the bucket" of the state's $9 billion budget. On Thursday, Raimondo submitted her annual spending plan to state lawmakers. Awaiting the approval of the legislature, it seems like the Rhode Island governor need not worry as the former has the nation's second-largest Democratic majority.
According to the Associated Press, the Rhode Island governor's plan would cover free tuition for all students at the Community College or the final two years of a 4-year degree at the University of Rhode Island or Rhode Island College. Noteworthy, the program doesn't include room and board. But Raimondo explained that the aim is to create an incentive for students to graduate on time. It came out of conversations with university students who had to drop out or delay their schooling due to financial problems.
In comparison, the Rhode Island governor claimed that this differs from Cuomo's proposal since she didn't include an income cap which would exclude middle-class families. For the first year, the allotted budget is $10 million. Only $3 million would go to pay for students' tuition at the Community College and more than half of them have benefited from scholarships and enjoyed a free tuition. Further, another $6 million will be invested in higher education institutions and later on budget will expand to $30 million so to include students at the College.
Raimondo is optimistic of the plan and said that with this people will consider studying at URI and eventually stick around in the state. News of the free tuition for all spread like wildfire among high school students and "people are excited," said 18-year-old Rachel Berson.