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2/19/2015 Rep. Amore proposes CCRI scholarships
Grants would help qualified students complete degree in 2 years, avoid loan debt
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) has proposed making grants/scholarships available to students attending the Community College of Rhode Island, to help ease the loan debt burden on middle class students and to encourage them to finish their degrees in two years.
The legislation (2015-H 5438) requires high academic performance and excellent attendance rates for students to be eligible for the grants. 
“This legislation will give students an opportunity to fulfill their core curriculum requirements without incurring debt, and will also allow those pursing an associate’s degree to enter the workplace without significant loan obligations,” said Representative Amore. “The bill offers great incentives for hard work and exceptional academic performance.”
Under the Amore legislation, the grants/scholarships to be awarded would be appropriated from the state’s general fund, following implementation rules and regulations to be adopted by the Board of Education.
The grant awards would be offered to qualifying students for a period of two years. To quality for the assistance, Rhode Island resident applicants must be 20 years old or younger; must be a full-time student at CCRI or an applicant for the school; must have graduated in the top 15 percent of their high school class; must have a 95 percent attendance record or better over the preceding four-year high school career, and must have achieved a SAT or ACT score at or above the state average.
Grant awards presented as a result of this legislation may be applied in addition to any other qualifying grant or award which the applicant might receive.
Unlike the proposal from President Obama to provide free tuition at community colleges around the nation, the Amore bill “requires high academic performance, and good SAT or ACT test scores to ensure that students receiving the grants are fully committed to doing their best at the community college level, that they are dedicated, hard-working students who value receiving a quality education. Setting these high standards will also ensure that students receiving the grants are ready and eager for the next phase of their educational journey and that no remedial courses will be required.”
In addition, said Representative Amore, the grants will help ensure that those pursuing an associate’s degree can enter the work place without the kinds of heavy student loan obligations “that we all recognize as a significant burden for many college graduates. The enormity of student loan debt can delay a graduate’s plans for buying a home or starting a family and defaulting on student loans can prevent graduates from achieving their long-range goals.”
In addition, said Representative Amore, “many students cannot complete CCRI in two years because they are working, often part-time and sometimes full-time, to support themselves and afford tuition. This bill, for those students who qualify for the grants, will help alleviate that problem and allow them to attain their degree in the minimum amount of time.”
“My goal with this legislation is to offer hard-working, academically talented middle class students a chance to succeed, to come out of school with no debt and with the skills that employers in our state are searching for,” he said.
The Amore bill has been referred to the House Committee on Finance. Among the co-sponsors are Rep. Shelby Maldonado (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls), Rep. Marvin L. Abney (D-Dist. 73, Newport, Middletown), Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence) and Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown).

For more information, contact:
Randall T. Szyba, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2457