According to the Community College of Rhode Island, the first class of students attending the school tuition-free is thriving.
More CCRI students are on track to graduate in two years, and enrollment straight out of high school increased more than 40 percent as a result of the Rhode Island Promise Scholarship program.
Sara Enright, Vice President of Student Affairs at CCRI, said the biggest factor is free tuition. She said many low-income students want a college degree, but they think it’s unaffordable.
"And then I think when you start talking to high school juniors and seniors about well just fill out this FAFSA and go sit down with a financial aid officer. It becomes complex and confusing, daunting. When you hang out a shingle that says free college, suddenly that simplifies it," said Enright.
Also, Enright said CCRI’s graduation rate is improving, but remains lower than the national average. Roughly 18 percent of students finish their degrees within three years.