Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee burnished his credentials as a higher education governor Monday night by promising in his State of the State speech to make two years of a community or technical college education free to graduating high school seniors in the state.
Haslam, whose state has aggressively overhauled its postsecondary system under both him and his predecessor, Phil Bredesen, proposed using lottery reserve funds to create an endowment to cover the tuition and fees of high school graduates who attend a community college or one of the state's colleges of applied technology. He called it the "Tennessee Promise."
"It is a promise that we have an ability to make," he said in a prepared text of his remarks. "Net cost to the state, zero. Net impact on our future, priceless."
The governor's 2014-15 budget proposal also calls for expanding the Degree Compass program developed at Austin Peay State University to help students navigate academic paths and creating a data system to help colleges identify adults who are likely to return to college and earn a degree.
- Bill Haslam's free community college plan and how Tennessee is grabbing the spotlight in higher education policy
- Reaction to three states' proposals for tuition-free community college
- White House plans to take Tennessee Promise national
- Shift for national free-college group, which wants to bolster local programs
- AGB launching commission to rethink role of governing boards, including in academics
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