CCRI hosts Rhode Island Promise enrollment days

Starting this fall, all 2017 Rhode Island high school graduates and GED recipients are eligible to pursue a tuition-free associate degree at the Community College of Rhode Island. (WJAR)

The Community College of Rhode Island hosted the first of two days dedicated to enrolling incoming students in the Rhode Island Promise scholarship program.

Starting this fall, 2017 Rhode Island high school graduates or GED recipients who are younger than 19 years old are eligible to pursue a tuition-free associate degree at CCRI.

Incoming students visited the Warwick campus Thursday to enroll in the fall semester, several recently choosing to attend school there.

“I decided, ‘Why not save $17,000 and come here for two years and then go to RIC for two years?’ said James Kozusko, an incoming student at CCRI.

Gov. Gina Raimondo spoke with incoming students at CCRI, one week after lawmakers approved her free college tuition program. The governor hopes the two-year pilot program is eventually expanded to the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College.

“I do want to expand it,” Raimondo said. “I think it's a great investment in the economy. It's a great investment in our people. If we invest in our people, Rhode Island will be stronger.”

College officials helped incoming students sign up for classes. Students told NBC 10 News the free tuition program is a relief to them and their parents.

“When they found out oh it's going to be for free, they were just -- it was unbelievable to be honest. It was something that I would have never expected,” said Daniela De La Cruz, who will be starting at CCRI in the fall.

Kozusko shared similar sentiments.

“I was talking to my mom about it. She was very worried. Like, how are we gonna get it -- get all the money and stuff? But with this it's going to help a lot,” he said.

CCRI administrators are getting ready for a bigger-than-normal incoming class.

“Last year, we had about 950 students who were first time, full-time straight out of high school,” said Sara Enright, vice president of student affairs. “So, I think we'll go from that 950 up to somewhere between 1,100 and 1,200.”

Another enrollment day will be held Aug. 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in room 1040 at the CCRI Knight Campus in Warwick. Applicants should bring photo identification, high school transcripts and parents' 2015 tax forms.

The deadline to enroll in the free tuition program is Aug. 25.

Additional information about Rhode Island Promise is available on the CCRI website.

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