Governor to Address First Class of Tennessee Promise Graduates at Cleveland State on Saturday

Friday, May 05, 2017 | 02:12pm

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will address the first class of Tennessee Promise graduates at Cleveland State commencement exercises on Saturday, fulfilling a promise he made the students when they began their college careers in August 2015. Haslam will address graduates of Southwest Community College in Memphis, next Saturday, May 13. 

Launched 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 a last-dollar scholarship funded by the state’s lottery for education account and not through tax dollars. Initial data shows that more Tennesseans are going to college, fewer need remediation when they get there, and student borrowing is down.

At Cleveland State, 128 Tennessee Promise students are completing their degrees within two years, doubling the completion rate of non-Promise students. Of those, 46 students were accepted into Phi Theta Kappa honor society, 16 joined the Honors Program and 12 received the Presidential Honors Scholarship. This class also completed 12,000 hours of community service, a requirement of the scholarship program.

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, Governor Haslam’s initiative to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025.

Click here for a current snapshot of the Tennessee Promise program.