The state of Tennessee is making it very difficult for students to decide not to go to college. And it’s probably not for the reason you’re thinking. HLN reports:
“Tennessee high school grads, listen up, are soon going to be able to attend community college for free. Lawmakers have approved a bill that will pay all tuition and fees for two years.”
Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us. Especially when you consider the fact that College Board found in 2013 the average cost of a two-year degree at an in-state school costs more than $10,000 per year. On average, it costs students about $18,000 per year for a four-year degree at an in-state school.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam laid out a proposal for this program back in February when he gave his State of the State address.
The Washington Post reported at the time, Haslam said the government would set aside $300 million from the state’s lottery fund to help cover the costs.
WKRN notes that the governor’s plan to take money away from the lottery fund will mean the Hope Scholarships, which are funded from that lottery reserve, will be cut from $4,000 to $3,500 for freshman and sophomores at four-year universities.
At the same time, Tennessee plans to increase the scholarship for juniors and seniors from $4,000 to $5,000.
This college tuition program is a large part of Haslam’s “Drive to 55” initiative, which The Tennesseandescribes as an “initiative aimed at increasing the number of college graduates from 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025.”
The program, now called The Tennessee Promise, mandates all recipients meet five requirements.
First, they must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. They must work with an assigned mentor and attend a college orientation. Students are also required to maintain their grades and finally, perform one day of community service each semester.
Cleveland.com notes Oregon and Mississippi have also discussed the idea of offering students two free years of community college, but Tennessee is the first state to adopt the proposal.
The Tennessee Promise program will take effect in fall 2015. The state is expecting 25,000 students to apply.