The Nation’s Smallest State Becomes the Next to Offer Tuition-Free College

Buildings relfecting on a canal from Waterfront Park in Providence,Rhode Island
DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

Rhode Island just became the latest state to offer free community college to high school graduates.

On Thursday, state lawmakers greenlit a four-year pilot program for the Promise Scholarship, which will allow recent high school grads to attend the Community College of Rhode Island this fall without paying tuition or fees, CNN Money reported.

The new law will save students from paying roughly $2,300 per semester, the current cost of in-state tuition and fees.

The state has earmarked $2.8 million in its budget to cover the first year, CNN Money reported.

Gov. Gina Raimondo’s initial free-college proposal included two years of free tuition at both of Rhode Island’s public four-year colleges, but lawmakers scrapped that idea.

This new law follows in the footsteps of Tennessee, Oregon, Minnesota, New York and San Francisco, where free-college programs have previously been approved or are already in place.

Who is Eligible for the New Program?

All recent high school graduates in Rhode Island can benefit from this program, regardless of family income.

While enrolled in community college, students must maintain a GPA of at least 2.5. Free tuition is only granted to full-time students.

Similar to New York’s free college deal, CNN Money reported the program requires those who benefit from the free tuition to live, work or continue their education in Rhode Island after graduation, though the exact details of the stipulation have yet to be hashed out.

The Community College of Rhode Island expects about 1,200 to 1,300 students to benefit from the Promise Scholarship this fall.

Not a whole lot, but you have to keep in mind Rhode Island is the nation’s smallest state.

So, What If I Don’t Live in Rhode Island?

For the hundreds of thousands of future college students in states not offering free tuition, there are still numerous ways to get a degree without taking on mountains of student loan debt.

At these nine schools, students can graduate debt-free — though each has its own set of requirements.

Grants and scholarships can reduce — or completely eliminate — the financial burden. Here are 100 scholarships that can help.

Taking on a job while in college is another way to pay down your tuition bill. Campus Sherpa hires students to give campus tours to prospective students.

You could choose to forgo a pricier four-year school for a two-year institution — and still graduate and go off to earn a great living. Here are 10 high-paying jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree.

And if you skip college altogether — here are 12 hot infrastructure jobs that don’t require a college education.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Despite a nearly full-ride scholarship, she is still paying off student loan debt.

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