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6/26/2023 Hope Scholarship Pilot Program Act becomes state law; program funded in state budget
STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly has passed and Gov. Dan McKee has signed the Rhode Island Hope Scholarship Pilot Program Act, which was introduced by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) and Senate Majority Leader Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln).

The purpose of the scholarship law (2023-H 5099aa, 2023-S 0077aa) is to increase the number of students enrolling in and obtaining degrees in a timely fashion from Rhode Island College and to promote more graduates in high-need fields and the trades. Funding or the program has been included in the state budget (2023-H 5200Aaa).

Touting it as workforce development legislation, Representative McNamara, who chairs the House Education Committee, said, “Seven out of 10 jobs in the future are going to require a postsecondary credential. In Rhode Island, critical professions such as nursing, teaching and social work are experiencing shortages that will have a profound impact on our state.”

The Hope Scholarship will provide the cost of two years of tuition and mandatory fees for eligible students during their junior and senior years at Rhode Island College.

Senator Pearson, who has been in the vanguard of education reform in the Senate, said, “Higher education and workforce development in this state will rely more and more heavily on Rhode Island College. If we’re going to be able to staff those critical careers, such as education and nursing, then it is imperative that we make this investment in our future.”

The act includes detailed eligibility requirements for students as well as reporting and disbursement requirements. Applicants will have to qualify for in-state tuition and fees; be currently enrolled as a full-time student who has declared a major; enroll or have enrolled full-time as a freshman as a first-time student and continue to be enrolled on a full-time basis at Rhode Island College; maintain an average annual cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or greater; remain on track to graduate on time; and commit to live, work or continue their education in Rhode Island after graduation.

“This scholarship will help students at a critical point in their college careers, when they typically begin to get frustrated and stressed,” said Representative McNamara. “Between their junior and senior years is when students tend to become overwhelmed with working and paying for college and they could use the assistance. Many Rhode Island College students utilize Pell grants, which are considered the foundation of a student’s financial aid package. This scholarship would make up the difference, assist students who are under a mountain of debt, and throw a lifeline to Rhode Island College.”

In addition, the act will permit charitable donations to the scholarship program as well as an annual appropriation by the General Assembly.

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903