A survey conducted of the membership of the RI Society of CPAs (RISCPA) indicates a lack of support for Governor Raimondo’s proposed RI Promise Scholarship Plan, as presently proposed. In a survey conducted this week, approximately 78% of the respondents expressed their opposition to the plan. The Society’s membership is made up of professionals from RI and southeastern New England representing the fields of accounting, finance, insurance, academia and law.
The Governor’s plan, which offers two years of state subsidized college tuition for in-state students enrolling in either CCRI, RI College, or URI, would be implemented in 2018 if approved in this year’s budget. It’s projected to cost $30 million when initially phased in, but future year costs associated with the program’s growth have not been provided. The Governor has said that the inability of RI students to pay tuition steadily is the leading cause for low rates of on-time graduation or drop-out rates.
“Our membership cares deeply about seeing Rhode Island’s next generation access a quality and affordable education, but they don’t believe this plan is the way to achieve that,” says RISCPA President Robert A. Mancini. “We share the Governor’s concern about the need to see more in-state students complete a college or community college education, however, we respectfully disagree that this plan is the best use of taxpayer investment in public education.”
A central concern expressed by RISCPA respondents was that the plan seems out of step with what RI can presently afford, as it would create one of the most ambitious college tuition subsidy programs in the country. Other concerns included the lack of research being provided to show future year costs associated with program growth, as well as the plan’s minimal expectation of academic requirements or financial need eligibility restrictions placed on students.
Additionally, respondents cited concerns about the overall impact a rapid enrollment increase could have on the higher education institutions themselves. These concerns centered on maintaining academic standards, keeping up with growing facility infrastructure needs, and increased staffing costs.
Finally, RISCPA appreciates the energy and focus Governor Raimondo has placed on upgrading career training and workforce development programs to improve the state’s attractiveness to employers and future economic development. We are hopeful the many job training initiatives currently underway will continue to improve the state’s ability to grow important industry sectors that will generate job development for Rhode Islanders.
The RI Society of CPAs provides education, leadership and advocacy for the accounting and related industry professions.