In 1997, the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education approved and instituted a policy on how to define and approach distance education. They recognized that the expansion in the use of the Internet would change the face of higher education. Fifteen years later, in the Fall of 2012, 1,347 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in Title IV colleges and universities as exclusively distant learners. While it may be small in density, Rhode Island’s online degree programs have been on par among other states since their instatement. Seven of Rhode Island’s four-year public schools now offer distance learning options, including the University of Rhode Island, which provides over 100 online courses to students.
Like other states across the country, Rhode Island’s tuition costs have continued to increase in recent years. Tuition at two-year public schools increased 36% between 2004 and 2014, and 46.5% at four-year public schools. In 2011, there was a 7.4% overall increase within that year alone. Tuition inflation costs in Rhode Island can be partially credited to the 23.1% decrease in state funding for higher education between 2008 and 2014. In recent years, the state’s public schools have turned to tuition to fund their operations in lieu of public funding. Despite rising tuition costs, enrollment has steadily increased among state’s schools. Overall, public institutions experienced a 16% enrollment between 2002 and 2012. While statistics show an increase, recent studies are predicting a decline in enrollment in the Midwest and Northeast in years to come. Rhode Island has a 57.3% graduation rate and a 79.9% first year student retention rate.
Find more information on Rhode Island’s best online college degree programs in our extensive school database below. You can also find information on educational financial assistance programs in the Higher Education Initiatives section. One such program is Rhode Island’s College Bound Fund, a 529 plan helping students secure tax credits on their RI returns, that can be used towards educational expenses.