Tennessee Gov. Wants 15 to Finish in Promise

February 1, 2018

During his final State of the State address this week, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam introduced a controversial change to the state's widely heralded free community college scholarship. 

The Complete to Compete: Complete College Tennessee Act of 2018 would require freshmen enrolling in 2019 to complete 30 credit hours of courses in 12 months or risk losing a portion of their Promise scholarship. The "30-in-12" requirement would require the community and technical colleges to create "ready-made" structured schedules that build in the 30 hours. 

The initiative is about the state making strides to reach its goal of having 55 percent of adults holding a degree or certificate by 2025. An end-of-the-year report on the state's retention and completion rates revealed that three-year community college graduation rates remain relatively low, averaging 20 percent in 2016.

However, initiatives that encourage community college students to attend full-time -- also known as 15 to Finish -- in order to retain scholarships and grants are controversial. Critics argue that these full-time requirements aren't feasible for students who work, have families or are less academically prepared. Advocates of such initiatives, however, point to research that shows the more credits a student takes, the faster they reach graduation with little or no debt. 

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