Rhode Island governor pushes tuition-free college in states


By Michael Stratford

RHODE ISLAND GOVERNOR PUSHES TUITION-FREE COLLEGE IN STATES: Raimondo, a Democrat who passed free community college in her state, is taking on a new national role to promote efforts by governors and state lawmakers to make public colleges tuition-free.

— Raimondo will become co-chair of a new advisory council formed by The Campaign for Free College Tuition, the group will announce today.

— “There’s total inaction at the federal level, which means cities and states need to step up” when it comes to college affordability, Raimondo said in an interview with POLITICO.

— Raimondo pitched tuition-free college as an economic boon for states. “It’s an investment in our economy,” she said. “Businesses benefit from it — every company I talk to says they want to be in states with talent.”

— “This isn’t about giving anything away for free, really, it’s about giving people a chance at getting a good job and a semblance of equal opportunity,” she said. Raimondo, who has cautioned Democratic presidential candidates about veering too far left on some issues, said states should see tuition-free college as an economic imperative.

— “We ought to be about work, and providing good jobs and high-paying jobs,” she said. “But you cannot tell people in order to get a good job, ‘You need a degree past high school and by the way it’s $75,000 a year per year of college — good luck.’”

— Raimondo signed legislation in 2017 making community college tuition-free. She said it’s led to a doubling of first-time, full-time students enrolled in community college, including a 160 percent increase in students of color. She added that the program has helped triple the community college graduation rate.

— About a dozen states have adopted some form of tuition-free college programs over the past five years, according to The Campaign for Free College Tuition, which tracks state legislative activity and provides policy playbooks to state lawmakers… (continue reading…)