Less than 45 percent of Rhode Islanders currently have degrees
Seven out of 10 jobs created in Rhode Island in coming years will require a degree beyond a high school diploma
PROVIDENCE, RI - Standing next to Community College of Rhode Island students who have benefitted from the Rhode Island's Promise last-dollar scholarship program she created, Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced today an ambitious goal to ensure 70 percent of working-aged Rhode Islanders hold at least an associate degree by 2025. In the coming years, seven out of 10 jobs created in Rhode Island will require more than a high school diploma.
"The surest ticket to the middle class is a college degree. My job as Governor is to make college more affordable and accessible so that more Rhode Islanders have an opportunity to compete," said Raimondo. "Roughly 70 percent of the jobs we'll create in the coming years require at least an associate degree, but less than 45 percent of Rhode Islanders have any type of college degree. Today, I'm drawing another line in the sand: By 2025, five years after today's 9th graders graduate high school, 70 percent of working-age Rhode Islanders will have an associate degree or higher."
Students who started 9th grade this year will be five years removed from high school graduation in 2025 and are the vanguard class that is able to take advantage of a full complement of initiatives Governor Raimondo has put in place to knock down barriers and put students on a path to graduate from high school college- or career-ready. These initiatives include, among others:
• New funding this year so every 10th and 11th grader can take the PSAT and SAT for free;
• $2.5 million in funding to establish the Prepare RI program which allows high school students to take college courses for free, lowering the cost of college for students and families;
• $2 million over two years to establish three P-TECH programs, including a six-year program in Westerly that gives students a high school diploma an associate degree in advanced manufacturing;
• $20 million over two years to establish the RI Promise Scholarship program; and
• The Wavemaker Fellowship program that offers tax credits to defray student loans to college graduates who live and work in Rhode Island.
"Last year, Rhode Island's Promise funding closed the gap between available funding and the cost of college for over 3,200 of CCRI's students," said CCRI President Meghan Hughes. "Community colleges are a bridge to the middle class and CCRI is excited to play a central role in Governor Raimondo's efforts to ensure 70 percent of Rhode Islanders have a college degree by 2025."
Four out of five jobs lost in during the recession were held by workers with no post-secondary education. Rhode Islanders without a college degree are twice as likely to be unemployed. Residents with an associate degree, on average, earn roughly 20 percent more than Rhode Islanders with a high school diploma. Rhode Islanders with a four-year bachelor's degree earn nearly 40 percent more.
In addition to the initiatives already in place, Governor Raimondo announced that she is working with RIPTA to address transportation challenges many working students face. She also previewed a pilot initiative from the Office of Innovation that will be announced next week to lower costs for students.
Progress on this and other strategic goals will be tracked regularly by the Governor's Performance Management team. Last week, the Governor announced an ambitious goal to double the percentage of third graders reading on grade level by 2025, when children born this year reach third grade.