Catherine Enos – Opinions editor
This archived article is from the February 14, 1989 edition of The Anchor.
“A proposal to provide free-tuition for Rhode Islanders… was introduced to the state House of Representatives last week” reads an Anchor article. Free tuition has been in the news for the past few years, so maybe this isn’t surprising. But, wait! This article is from 1989… It seems as if free tuition has always been on the minds of students and politicians, not just recently, but as long as 30 years ago.
However, the initiative introduced 30 years ago, as laid out briefly in this archived article, seems a bit different than the Promise Scholarship we’ve all become familiar with. For one, this plan from the past includes CCRI, URI and RIC. As the current scholarship stands, CCRI students are the only recipients of free tuition. Only recently has Governor Gina Raimondo proposed that RIC students enjoy the benefits of the scholarship, too.
Another difference in this free tuition plan is how the legislature originally planned out its implementation. The plan from the ‘80s sought to reduce charges gradually by 10 percent each year, which would have cost the state $35 million in the first year alone. Though a gradual reduction of tuition seems like it may have been a good idea, obviously Rhode Island opted not to go through with this plan. This time around, the cost of the Promise Scholarship is just a fraction of the $35 million plan from 1989––in the first year, the costs added up to around $2.9 million (providencejournal.com).
Though the plan originating from the House of Representatives failed, the Promise Scholarship has done quite the opposite and may expand to RIC, one day. One day, maybe students will be looking to the archives to see what life was like before free tuition.