The House of Representatives has passed legislation introduced by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) that would require schools to report on the race and gender of students applying for federal student aid.
The Education Accountability Act (2021-H 5076A) would require the principal at each school to provide an annual report on the number of graduating students and the number applying for admission to college or vocational training. The report would also include the total number of students completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form and the total number of students eligible to fill out and submit a FAFSA form, and would provide data on the race, ethnicity, and gender of the students.
“Last year, with COVID, the number of minority students nationally that filled out FAFSA forms declined by over 20 percent, with the largest decline being African-American high school students,” said McNamara, who chairs the House Education Committee. “In light of our efforts to make the Rhode Island Promise Program permanent, it is imperative that students fill out these forms or they are ineligible for the program. If we have this data, then we will be able immediately to send up red flags when we see a cohort of our minority students who are not taking advantage of one of the most important programs available.”
The Rhode Island Promise program, which provides up to two years of free tuition for eligible Rhode Islanders at the Community College of Rhode Island, is set to expire in September, but both Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) have sponsored legislation (2021-H 5224, 2021-S 0079) to make the program permanent.
The measure now moves to the Senate for consideration.