Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.

4 responses to “Raimondo wants RI to be first in nation to offer free college tuition to residents”

  1. Randall Rose

    Raimondo’s college plan looks kind of like an excuse for budget squeezes elsewhere. Raimondo is already under fire for budget cuts targeting Rhode Island’s most vulnerable, such as the proposed bus fare hikes targeted solely at low-income disabled people and low-income seniors. She is hoping to get enough goodwill with this plan to enable more of the budget cuts that she is known for. I expect this plan to be used by State House leaders in general, not just Raimondo, to cover for a refusal to pay for a lot of the services that middle-class and working-class people rely on. Part of the subtext here may be that, as the incoming Trump/Republican leadership in Washington plans cuts to retirement, social services, transit and health, RI elected officials will refuse to cushion the blow. We shouldn’t praise Raimondo’s plan without being aware that it may well be used to enable these cuts.

    I want to acknowledge that the plan for two years of free college is a good thing in itself, and I’ll give some details in the next comment. Though I don’t like Raimondo’s priorities, she has at least agreed to do something that benefits ordinary Rhode Islanders instead of the insiders who profit from things like the Commerce Corporation. Her action was probably encouraged by the increasing pressure she faces from ordinary voters and their allies in progressive organizations.

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  2. Randall Rose

    More on Raimondo’s college plan:

    If it is not watered down by the General Assembly — a big if — the plan covers not just “tuition” but also mandatory fees, though not the cost of campus meals and living in a dorm (for those who live on-campus). Those who will be eligible for 2 years of tuition-free college are those who graduate from RI high schools after living in-state for at least 3 years, and then go straight to a state college (CCRI, RIC or URI), never taking any time off except for military service or illness, and maintaining a 2.0 college GPA. Students who qualify will not have to pay tuition or mandatory fees for a 2-year CCRI associates’ degree or the last 2 years of a 4-year bachelor’s program at RIC or URI. The deal requires you to complete college on time without taking any extra semesters. It is implied, but not directly stated, that undocumented students who currently qualify for in-state tuition can take this offer. The plan is available to everyone regardless of income.

    Of course, even if this passes, RIC and URI could still compensate by raising tuition or fees for students in the first two years or for students who aren’t covered. There is also a risk that new fees could be added later that aren’t covered by this plan. The article above quotes highly paid college employees praising this plan, which is no surprise since it doesn’t touch the inflated salaries of administrators and college teachers. It looks kind of like an attempt to buy off a particular constituency. Still, despite the lack of means-testing, the plan does move things a couple notches towards more social mobility and more equal opportunity. Again, it is a good thing that enough pressure has been placed on Raimondo that she feels she needs to do this, and more public pressure is needed.

    The extra education will be important in itself. Increasing access to education is certainly more valuable than ever in promoting freedom, although Raimondo has been known in the past for moves that water down education (like the proposal that students who study a computer language shouldn’t have to learn an actual foreign language). We will need to keep making sure that education in Rhode Island is useful for citizens who want to inform themselves and not just for teaching people to be passive cogs in a machine. But despite the good elements in this plan, we shouldn’t rest until those in elected office pursue our priorities instead of substituting their own.

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  3. Barry Schiller

    When I was a student in the 50s-60s, state universities were essentially tuition free for residents for all 4 years, and though African-Americans and some minorities were left out in those still segregated days, it made college available to working class kids and the overall economy boomed.
    Since then tuition/fees have skyrocketed, now $12,884/yr at URI, $8206 at RIC. Its not because of “inflated salaries of college teachers” as RIC and URI salaries are well below peer institutions and the increased use of adjunct faculty, poorly paid with fewer benefits makes that claim even more outlandish. A big factor in tuition being so much higher is because state support has dropped significantly.
    Raimondo IS promoting our priorities here (one of Sanders major points too) and should get some praise for this. It can also help make RI more attractive for progressive companies. There are details to work out but lets support her on this enthusiastically.

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  4. PinkHatLib

    Wait, remind me again how free tuition for RI students benefits Wall Street? Uuungh, Raimondo baaaad!

    Seriously, this is quite possibly the most progressive proposal I’ve seen since moving here more than a decade ago. Raimondo deserves credit where credit is due.

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