Students at Rhode Island’s public colleges and university could see a tuition hike next year. The state Board of Education is slated to vote Wednesday on a proposal that would increase the cost of Rhode Island College by about $600 a year. Tuition at the University of Rhode Island would go up by about $900, with larger increases for out-of-state students.
Post-Secondary Education Commissioner Jim Purcell said they need a total of about $30 million more dollars for the coming academic year.
“The $30-million dollar increase relates to our need to address about an 8 percent increase in healthcare costs and to address our mandated employee salary increases,” said Purcell.
Purcell said the new funding request is broken up into two parts.
“One is the state appropriation, which is about an $11-million request, and then the second part is what part of that would be tuition, and that would be about the $20 million,” said Purcell. “Normally in Rhode Island there is about two-thirds of the cost is borne by the student and a third by the state.”
Public colleges in Rhode Island have avoided tuition increases for the last two years. The state budget for higher education is decided by the governor and the state legislature.
Some students say they are only just learning of the proposed tuition hikes, and they’re wondering whether financial aid will keep pace.
CCRI student Marie Barron returned to school after a break, and is concerned that an increase could affect her financial aid.
“I feel like it's not fair because we already have enough that we have to pay for,” said Barron. “Personally, I get financial aid. Meaning, I could probably get half of the financial aid and then they would probably have to sit down and tell me I have to come up, come up with the rest of it out of my own pocket.”
Nusrat Nislam is a first year, in-state student in URI’s biotechnology program which has higher tuition than some of the other programs in the university.
“Since I do have a lot of aid I can actually handle paying for it now,” said Nislam. “It might be a bit of a hassle in the future if I decide to take more classes or something. But at the end of the day I'm just happy that it's not way more than nine-hundred dollars.”
Allie Rivera is a non-traditional student with three years left in school. She said one year’s tuition increase doesn’t seem like much, but she is thinking long-term.
“I’m not too happy about it because an extra thousand dollars a year at the end of my time would be an extra three thousand dollars to my loans, which is a lot of money.”
The increases would begin during the 2017 – 2018 academic year.