Tennessee makes Free Tuition Promise to High School Seniors beginning with the Class of 2015

The Tennessee Promise, funded by the Tennessee lottery, allows for all qualifying high school graduates to enter a community college or technical program for a two year degree for free.  Yes, for free!

The program is both a scholarship and mentoring program focused on increasing the number of students that attend college in Tennessee. The scholarship will cover tuition and fees not covered by the Pell grant, the HOPE scholarship, or state student assistance funds. Students may use the scholarship at any of the state’s 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology, or other eligible institution offering an associate’s degree program. (To see an example of how the Tennessee Promise scholarship is utilized in conjunction with these other grants and scholarships, view this video link from the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation.)

What’s the catch? Students must be Tennessee residents. There is also a stipulation that each participant receives individual guidance from a mentor. The mentor’s purpose is to assist the student as s/he navigates the college admissions process. This is accomplished primarily via mandatory meetings that students must attend in order to remain eligible for the program. Additionally, Tennessee Promise participants must complete eight hours of community service per term enrolled at school and maintain a 2.0 GPA at their educational institution. See more information on the Tennessee Promise Website.

This program came about as a result of current Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Drive to 55″ initiative. The initiative strives to get 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by the year 2025. According to the Drive to 55 Alliance website, the program is, “not just a mission for higher education, but a mission for Tennessee’s future workforce and economic development a drive to reduce unemployment and improve quality of life.”

High School Seniors in Tennessee may apply for the 2016 Tennessee Promise Program between August 17 and November 2, 2015. To apply for the scholarship, students should apply online at http://www.tn.gov/collegepays/article/tsac-student-portal.

Because this program is so new, there are bound to be updates and clarifications made to it. If you are interested in the program, I would recommend checking the Tennessee Promise site regularly for these changes. Here’s a link to the changes posted on September 19, 2015.

This program will go a long way to helping students achieve their dreams of attending community college or a technical program in Tennessee.

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