The largest individual gift in the Community College of Rhode Island's 53-year history will provide students with critical funding to help them persist to graduation.
Local philanthropist Bhikhaji Maneckji's $500,000 donation will be used to create the Last Mile scholarship, which will help remove barriers so students can graduate, enter the workforce or pursue a bachelor's degree more quickly. More than forty students have already been awarded the scholarship and will benefit from the funds during the fall semester.
Many CCRI students do not attend school full time because they lack funds or must work to make ends meet. Last Mile scholarships will give students who are at least halfway to graduation the funding they need so they attend CCRI full time and complete their studies.
These scholarships will address costs often not covered by traditional financial aid: child care, transportation, lost wages and other basic life expenses. The scholarship application period will open in November for the 2018 spring semester. Students who enrolled in a CCRI degree or certificate program in fall 2015 or 2016 can contact CCRI's Office of Financial Aid for more information.
"We are inspired by Mr. Maneckji's generosity and his belief in our students and their ability to succeed," said CCRI President Meghan Hughes. "His gift is a powerful sign to new potential donors, and we will use the Last Mile scholarship to build the culture of philanthropy CCRI must have in order to fully realize its mission."
Studies show that students who enroll full time have a better chance of graduating. According to a Center for Community College Student Engagement report released this spring, 34 percent of students who enrolled full time for at least some of their community college career earned an associate degree or certificate, compared to only 23 percent of those who attended college part time. CCRI shares these national challenges with 17 percent of full-time students earning a degree in three years compared to 3 percent of part-time students earning a degree in the same time frame.
And a 2015 study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center supports the idea that earning a degree from a two-year institution will help pave a path toward a bachelor's degree. It found that 41 percent of students who earned an associate degree finished a bachelor's degree within six years – 60 percent if they earned it at age 20 or younger. The study found that it took on average 2.8 years for students with an associate degree to earn a bachelor's.