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TN Voted: Graduating High School Seniors Attend Community College for Free

tennflagOn Tuesday, April 15, Tennessee’s State Legislature approved Gov. Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Promise proposal. This program will use an endowment from lottery money reserves to pay the tuition and fees for two years for all state high-school graduates who want to go to a community or technical college.  The State House of Representatives voted in favor of the plan (87 to 8) a day after Senate approval (vote: 30 to 1).

In order to participate, graduating high-school seniors would have to enroll in college in the following fall semester. (Due to financial constraints, this program would not apply to working adults.) In
addition, the Tennessee Promise program would place requirements on students, such as:

  • enrolling in a college full time for up to five consecutive semesters,
  • maintaining a 2.0 grade-point average,
  • completing eight hours of community service per semester
  • and applying for federal student aid, including Pell Grants.

Tennessee would subtract any federal aid they received from what it paid. In other words, the program would pay only the cost of tuition and fees not covered by Pell or other federal grants.*

Net cost to the state, zero. Net impact on our future, priceless.”  Governor Haslam, Tennessee

Governor Haslam’s goal is to have 55 percent of the state’s residents earn a college credential by 2025.

TN_promise_263_209_fillAccording to David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and research at the American Association of Community Colleges, “The Tennessee proposal is likely to attract more students to college and could also have a strong effect on the number of students who complete a degree. Having the money to pay for college is often the key factor in whether a student completes a degree or drops out.” In addition, because many more low-income and first-generation students might be starting out at community colleges, the program could help reduce the cost and inefficiency of remediation at the four-year colleges.

We are committed to making a clear statement to families that education after high school is a priority in the State of Tennessee.”  Governor Haslam, Tennessee

For more information visit: Drive to 55 – Tennessee Promise

*Note that immigrant students who are in the country illegally would not be eligible
for federal financial aid, and thus could not participate in the Tennessee Promise.

Source: Chronicle of Higher Education