Title

Promising Data on Tenn.'s Free Community College Program

September 25, 2017
 
 

Tennessee students who participate in the state's free community college scholarship program, dubbed the Tennessee Promise, are more likely to succeed in college than their peers are, The Tennessean reported.

More than half of the first batch of recipients (56 percent), who enrolled in 2015, had graduated, transferred to a four-year institution or remained enrolled, according to new data from the Tennessee Board of Regents and the state's two-year college system. Just 39 percent of recent high school graduates outside of the program had done the same.

Roughly 44 percent of 2015 Promise recipients had dropped out without a degree by this year, which isn't a particularly high drop-out rate for community college students. In comparison, 61 percent of non-Promise community college students who were recent high school graduates left college without a degree in the same time frame.

"I think the results show that these students are succeeding at a decidedly better rate," said Bill Haslam, the state's Republican governor and a driving force behind the Promise scholarship's creation.

The analysis found some troubling data points. For example, students from minority groups were less likely than white students to participate in the program. "The data's pretty clear that we have gaps and equity issues," Russ Deaton, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs and student success at the Board of Regents, told the newspaper.

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