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For the latest business news and markets data, please visit CNN Business. The Promise Scholarship will cover the cost of tuition and fees at the Community College of Rhode Island for new students starting this fall -- regardless of their income. They rejected, however, a broader proposal from Governor Gina Raimondo that would have made two years free at both of the state's public four-year colleges, as well as the community college.

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An expanded free-college plan in Rhode Island offers an unusual way for a state to promote higher education, giving students the option of either two years of free community college or a scholarship covering their third and fourth years at a state university. A bid by Rhode Island governor Gina M.

Raimondo, a Democrat who just won re-election, has proposed two years of essentially tuition-free education that students can use either for community college or for the final two years of attending one of the state's two public four-year colleges, regardless of family income.

She also wants to make adult students eligible for the community college benefit. Raimondo first proposed what is now Rhode Island's Promise scholarship in Lawmakers ultimately limited its benefits to just CCRI students.

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Now Raimondo is back. She wants to expand the plan to again offer two years of tuition at a public four-year institution for all students. Her proposal stands in contrast to New York's free-college proposal, announced in by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who vowed to make tuition free at the City University of New York and State University of New York systems -- for both community colleges and four-year colleges and universities.

Cuomo has estimated that nearlyfamilies will be eligible once the plan is fully phased in this fall.

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But the so-called Excelsior Scholarship has been closely scrutinized. The program has already provided tens of thousands of students with free tuition, but critics have said its requirements are burdensome -- students must complete 30 credits per year, then live and work in New York for the same of years after graduation as they received scholarships.

If they don't comply, the grants turn into loans that must be paid back.

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By contrast, both the current Rhode Island legislation and the proposed expansion ask only for a "commitment" by students to stay in Rhode Island after receiving the scholarship. They don't set forth a time requirement and have no penalties imposed if a student moves out of state. Students at CCRI must take at least 30 credits per year and maintain a 2. Adult students must take 18 credits. With an "M.

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Research on the program has shown that most of the students who qualify are already eligible for federal Pell Grants, which cover virtually the full cost of both CCRI and RIC. Nevins said research shows that more jobs will require at least some college. Nevins noted that many middle-class families are at pains to cover their children's college expenses.

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As it stands, even the expanded scholarship would have its limits. Raimondo also wants to offer tuition aid to CCRI students over age 25 -- as it is, the program only benefits those who enrolled directly out of high school and who attend full-time.

Rhode island just became the fourth state in the nation to make community college free, following examples in new york, oregon and tennessee.

Yet state statistics show that 38 percent of college students statewide are already older than 25, and that 47 percent support themselves financially. They see it as one of three trends -- along with President Trump's immigration policies and unfavorable regional demographics -- spelling their possible demise.

Daniel P. But two years later, he said, conditions have worsened.

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Of the eight institutions, some depend more than others on Rhode Islanders as students. He noted that in the first year of the scholarship, enrollment fell at RIC, the public four-year college, as it has for several years running. At the University of Tennessee at Martin, for instance, undergraduate enrollment last spring fell 2. According to RIC, its four-year graduation rate is about 20 percent. Its six-year graduation rate is 50 percent.

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About 61 percent of those new students came from low-income families, and 47 percent were students of color, according to statistics provided by the college. In all, CCRI enrolls more than 22, students on four campuses, making it the largest community college in New England. It is also the only community college in Rhode Island. There is a way for you to attend CCRI. You do not have to worry about whether you can afford it or not. In many cases, he said, students at RIC drop out after two years to earn enough to return a year or two later.

Not so in the Rhode Island proposal. Brock said he hopes the institutions receiving the scholarship students support them with counseling and other infrastructure improvements. He also said Raimondo should think seriously about how the state will evaluate the program's effectiveness.

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Brock said concerns that the scholarship will unfairly benefit students from upper-income families are "overblown," mostly because these students self-select into other colleges. Lawmakers are expected to offer a projection of state revenue by early May, with a budget completed a month later. So far, Nevins said, the issue is a winner for Raimondo, especially in a state so small that virtually everyone knows a young person who has benefited from the scholarship.

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