Tennessee Becomes First State To Offer Free Tuition To All Graduating High School Students

Earlier today, Consumerist reported on a town in Michigan that is footing the bill for recent high school graduates to attend public universities and community colleges. Little did we know that was small potatoes compared to a program brewing in Tennessee.

The Tennessee House of Representatives and Senate gave their stamp of approval on a plan that gives all Tennessee high school graduates the opportunity to receive two years of free tuition to community colleges or technical schools in the state, The Tennessean reports.

The Tennessee Promise, which will be funded by $300 million from the state’s lottery fund, will take effect in fall 2015. The state expects more than 25,000 students to apply for the estimated $34 million earmarked for the first year of the program.

Tuition funds would be considered “last-dollar scholarships” and only available after all sources of aid have been received.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam proposed the initiative in February as a way to boost an ill-prepared workforce by increasing the number of college graduates in the state.

“I honestly feel like we need something that’s a game-changer in terms of expectations around education in Tennessee,” Haslam told The Tennessean’s editorial board when he first proposed the program.

The approval of Tennessee Promise comes eight years after a similar program was introduced and failed to gain support in the state legislature.

Lawmakers back Tennessee Promise plan for free tuition [The Tennessean]