Rhode Island College will be the center of attention during a House Finance Committee hearing Thursday. During this hearing, members of the committee will listen to testimony regarding two bills related to RIC as well as Gov. Dan McKee’s recent budget amendments.
H 5099, also known as the Hope Scholarship and introduced by State Rep. Joseph McNamara (D-Dist. 19), funds a six-year pilot program that makes RIC students’ junior and senior years tuition-free so long as they meet certain requirements. These requirements include qualifying for in-state tuition, earning a 2.5 GPA, obtaining 60 credits and more.
The Hope Scholarship is a major piece of legislation RIC President Dr. Jack Warner identifies as a top priority for the college this legislative session. A Senate version of this bill, S 0077, has been introduced by Senate Majority Leader Ryan Pearson (D-Dist. 19). This pilot program is also one of the two budget amendments McKee introduced in April that will be heard during this hearing.
McKee’s proposal would start for students graduating in fall 2023 and go until May 2026. As with both aforementioned pieces of legislation, this proposal also has a minimum GPA requirement and students needing to obtain a certain number of credits.
The price tag for McKee’s proposal includes $9.4 million from State Fiscal Recovery Funds and $1 million from RIC’s institutional financial aid. Students who have received the Rhode Island Promise scholarship would not be eligible for the Hope Scholarship.
Additional information about the Hope Scholarship can be found here.
H 5320, introduced by House Minority Whip David Place (R-Dist. 47), would fund a scholarship for students at RIC who are “in the care and custody of the 2 department of children, youth and families” to “attend Rhode Island College without the payment of 3 tuition and room and board.” According to the bill, requirements to be eligible for this scholarship include qualifying for in-state tuition, having enrolled at RIC in fall 2023 onward, filling out the FAFSA and being a full-time student at RIC.
The second budget amendment introduced by McKee that will be heard is a proposed Institute of Cybersecurity & Emerging Technologies. This institute, which would be at RIC, would have a $4 million, three-year budget. $2 million of this funding would be from Rhode Island’s State Fiscal Recovery Funds, while the other half would come from RIC. RIC’s slice of the funding would go toward faculty, staff and facilities.
Former Congressman Jim Langevin, a proud RIC alumnus who focused on cybersecurity during his time in Congress, would lead the institute.
Once approved, this institute would start right away in the fall 2023 semester. This institute would be under the college’s School of Business. Currently, cybersecurity is a minor at RIC, but will soon become a major. A curriculum is being submitted soon and Warner expects it will be approved.
The hearing will take place at 5 p.m. in Room 35 of the State House. Rhode Island House and Senate committees accept both in-person and written testimony. Information on testifying for bills being heard by committees can be found here. This hearing will also be live on Capitol Television, which on cable is channel 15 and 61 for Cox Communications subscribers as well as channel 34 for those subscribed to Verizon.