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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee is pushing to create a primarily state-funded scholarship program at Rhode Island College (RIC).

McKee said the Hope Scholarship would provide last-dollar tuition to eligible in-state students during their junior and senior years.

“The Hope Scholarship is a win for students, families and all of Rhode Island,” McKee said. “We know that students who graduate with four-year degrees will have higher earning potential and also help fill important professional positions within our economy.”

“The Hope Scholarship will be a critical tool used to ensure affordability isn’t the reason our students don’t finish their four year degrees,” he continued.

McKee has filed an amendment to his proposed budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year that would set aside $9.4 million for the scholarship program. The Hope Scholarship would also be supported by $1 million in financial aid from RIC over a three-year period.

“The Hope Scholarship is a smart investment in Rhode Island students that will pay dividends for generations to come,” RIC President Jack Warner said. “Rhode Island College leads the region in providing social mobility to graduates and more than 70% of our students continue to live, work and pursue advanced degrees in Rhode Island after graduation, so this benefits the state as much as the students.”

The governor said the Hope Scholarship would initially be structured as a pilot program, should his amendment be approved by the R.I. General Assembly.

The first round of funding would be provided to eligible juniors and seniors this fall, and the pilot would end with the 2026 graduating class.

Eligible juniors and seniors must meet a minimum GPA requirement and have accumulated a sufficient amount of credits toward their field of study.

McKee explained that the Hope Scholarship “…is designed to address affordability issues and increase the percent of students who earn their bachelor’s degree.”

The governor also stressed that students who previously received an R.I. Promise scholarship while attending the Community College of Rhode Island won’t be eligible for the Hope Scholarship.

The R.I. Promise program, which provides two years of free tuition for eligible high school graduates and costs the state roughly $7 million annually, was enshrined into law two years ago.

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