Cranston Residents can take advantage of a program created through Roger Williams University (RWU), and their Providence Campus’ University College (UC) to take advantage of discounted courses …
Cranston Residents can take advantage of a program created through Roger Williams University (RWU), and their Providence Campus’ University College (UC) to take advantage of discounted courses and to receive college credit for life experiences and the lessons they’ve learned simply by living and working.
Students in Cranston can take RWU classes at UC for as little as $750 per credit, and Pell Grant eligible students could find their entire program costing as little as — no money at all.
“Over 90% of our students are non-traditional, that means they work for a living,” Director of Partnerships & Innovation Peter Thomas said. “That means they work for a living, often full-time, and they take courses with us. A lot of time’s they’re taking courses to start or begin a degree. They may be taking courses to finish a degree, and we also offer everything in between.”
Certifications in cyber and homeland security, medical and health programs and more are available at the campus.
“Most people don’t even know we have a campus in Providence,” Thomas said. “Many of those classes can be taken online, as a hybrid course or in person. The main goal of UC, and why Roger Williams is so committed to having a presence in Providence, is that we want to be accessible.”
Thomas said that unlike the main campus in Bristol, public transportation to the Providence campus is much more accessible.
“We’re in Downtown Providence here,” he explained. “We’re diagonal from Trinity Rep and right across the street from the Providence Public Library.”
It’s location isn’t the only thing Thomas said makes UC more accessible than Roger Williams. Affordability is a key factor in making the school more accessible to the general public.
“Our tuition rates are already pretty affordable to begin with,” Thomas continued. “They range just under $1,300 if you were to receive zero help financially, but if you’re a Cranston resident it’s even cheaper. We have what they call MOUs (memorandums of understanding) in place with a few cities. Cranston is one. There’s also Central Falls, Pawtucket and East Providence. What we do is we provide them with a substantial discount to make the opportunity exciting, as well as accessible and affordable, for those residents in those cities to take classes at UC online or whatever and to finish their degree.”
Thomas said that his role is often to build relationships with companies in the state that have college reimbursement programs and work to promote University College as a way to help build employees up. The college also offers something interesting called the prior learning assessment.
Most colleges and universities are known to accept and transfer credits from other schools that you have attended in the past. Residents of Rhode Island may be familiar with programs such as Rhode Island Promise, where students coming out of high school can attend CCRI for free for two years and then four-year schools like Rhode Island College and University of Rhode Island will transfer credits or degrees earned towards a bachelor’s degree. However, UC takes this a step further.
“We look at prior education and transcripts from any other college that you’ve had, but we also look at trainings you might have received,” Thomas went on to explain excitedly. “For example, if you were president or treasurer of Cranston little league, that and those skills could be assessed by our director of prior learning, Dr. Amiee Shelton. She can assign college credits based on that experience. It makes earning a degree or certificate more affordable, gives you less classes to take and can provide up to 90 credits towards the 120 credit master’s degree.”
When one considers the massive price tag a college education can come with, especially when trying to obtain a master’s level degree, this makes for a much more obtainable goal for many residents of the city who may have thought the cost would stop them from reaching for it.
“For less than $8,000 you can be getting your diploma,” Thomas gushed. “If you’re Pell Grant eligible, then the whole thing could even be free.”
“It’s something we call the Roger Promise,” said Director of Paralegal Studies Tracey Pratt. “Competing with the state promise, but ours is better. Of course though, I’m biased.”
Pratt said that the success rate for Rhode Island Promise is, comparably, horrible. Students go to CCRI, have to take five classes and those classes may have to be split up between campuses all over the state. They have to take all five classes to be eligible to get their classes for free. This can be especially difficult for students who work or don’t have reliable transportation to get from CCRI’s Warwick Campus to the Lincoln Campus and then take another class in Newport. However, Pratt said that as long as a student is Pell eligible, to begin with, they can go to any school for free not just CCRI.
“That’s why it’s even more exciting for the cities we have agreements with,” Pratt explained. “Residents of these cities can use their Pell funds to go to school and take advantage of the $750 rate while not having to take five classes. You can take as little as two. So, if you’re someone who struggle to begin with or maybe didn’t do so great in high school you don’t have to take the five. You can come in and take two, say ‘this is what college is all about’ and then also save some money.”
Thomas said that students who are looking to attend the school’s main campus in Bristol can find UC a great place to start that journey.
“That program is kind of two-fold,” Pratt explained. “Students who apply to main campus and are denied admission are given the opportunity to start here through University College first. Once they attend four classes, and they have the requisite GPA, which depends on whether they do it over one semester or two, then they are guaranteed admission to main campus after that.”
Pratt also said that students, who just started at UC, while not part of that exact program, can still benefit from a similar program.
“After 12 credits, as long as they have a decent GPA and have taken writing and a math, they too can go,” Pratt explained. “I know we have an MOU with Cranston, but regardless of what community you’re from if a high school wants to come here, maybe they’re graduating from Warwick, any student who comes here with 0 transfer credits we’re going to give the $750 rate too. Even if you were from Warwick and coming in with credits the cost is only $1,299, so it is still low.”
Pratt said that when people think of attending RWU a lot of people assume that the price will be too steep and attending the college is out of reach, but she and Thomas said that doesn’t have to be the case.
“When you do that math think about someone from Cranston (or another city without transferring credits) starting and finishing their degree through RWU or UC and walking across the stage in Bristol at the end of it,” Thomas said. “They’re holding a diploma that says Roger Williams University. There’s no asterisk saying you got it through University College or anything like that. Think about the amount of savings when it costs upward of $50,000 a year tuition. You could basically multiply $250 by 120 credits —which adds up to $30,000 — and that’s all it will cost you over that time.”