PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – As state leaders continue to mull a proposal to provide two years of free college tuition to new high school graduates, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza announced Friday the city will begin providing scholarships to 90 students to cover the cost of books during their freshman year of college.
In a press conference at Classical High School, Elorza said any public school student in Providence who demonstrates financial need by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be eligible for the $750 scholarship. Students who receive the award will be allowed to apply one more time while they’re in college.
The scholarship will be paid for using proceeds from a trust set up by Edward Bradford, who left nearly $111,000 to the city of Providence when he died in 1974. His will states the money should be used to provide college scholarships to “financially handicapped” students without any academic requirements. The city has used the money to give scholarships over the last four decades, but the fund has grown to $1.9 million, according to a spokesperson for the mayor.
The city had little biographical information about Bradford, but he also left $500 to the Providence Boys Club, the Providence Public Library and the Princeton University class of 1906, according to the will.
“In Providence we are all in for education and I’m thrilled to offer this scholarship for students who have demonstrated a strong commitment to their studies and their communities,” Elorza said. “Access to a college education can make all the difference in the lives of our students, which is why my administration is committed to supporting students through programs like Bradford Scholarship. I encourage families to spread the news about this opportunity and urge students to apply today.”
In addition to filling out the FAFSA, students will be required to complete an application, write a short essay and receive a letter of recommendation from a teacher by June 1. A scholarship review committee will select the recipients.
“I have experienced the same financial barriers to pursuing higher education our students continue to face today,” School Board President Nicholas Hemond said in a statement. “Non-tuition costs add up quickly for college students, and this book scholarship will provide additional support to help Providence students succeed, and achieve their goals.”
Elorza, the school board and Providence City Council have all endorsed Gov. Gina Raimondo’s proposal to pay for the first two years at the Community College of Rhode Island or the final two years at the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College for new high school graduates, but it’s unclear whether state lawmakers will support the plan.