Governor To Address Tennessee Promise Graduates at Southwest Tennessee Community College on Saturday

Friday, May 12, 2017 | 09:51am

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will address some of the first Tennessee Promise graduates at Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis on Saturday, where 63 Promise students are completing their degrees within two years.

WHO:             Gov. Bill Haslam               

WHAT:           Southwest Tennessee Community College Commencement

WHEN:           Saturday, May 13, 10:30 a.m. CDT

WHERE:        FedExForum, Downtown Memphis

MEDIA:          Open

Launched by Haslam in 2014, Tennessee Promise is the nation’s first scholarship and mentorship program offering high school graduates two years of community college or technical school free of tuition and fees. It is early in the Tennessee Promise story, but initial data shows more Tennesseans are going to college, fewer need remediation when they get there, and student borrowing is down.

Specifically, as a result of Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, statewide data shows:

  • First-time freshmen enrollment has increased 30 percent at community colleges and overall enrollment has increased 32 percent at technical colleges (TCATs).
  • More than 33,000 students have enrolled in college as a result of Tennessee Promise, and of the students who began in fall 2015, 63 percent are still enrolled in college, including an 83 percent retention rate at TCATs.
  • At community colleges, Tennessee Promise students had significantly higher retention rates (58 percent) than non-Promise first-time freshmen (42 percent).
  • For a second year in a row, Tennessee led the nation in FAFSA filings (70.3 percent of the class of 2016) and is on track to maintain that for a third year.
  • Since implementation of Tennessee Promise, student loan originations decreased by 17 percent, and the average federal student loan amount decreased by 12 percent.

Tennessee Promise is the cornerstone of the Drive to 55, Haslam’s initiative to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025.

On Wednesday, the General Assembly passed the Tennessee Reconnect Act, establishing a last-dollar scholarship for adults to attend community college tuition-free. This makes Tennessee the first state to offer all citizens – both high school graduates and adults – the chance to earn a postsecondary degree or certificate free of tuition and fees and at no cost to taxpayers.