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Tennessee To Offer Free Tuition At Community Colleges
The Tennessee Promise, proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam, will take effect in fall 2015. It will be funded by $300 million from the state's lottery fund. The state expects 25,000 students to apply and it would cost an estimated $34 million a year. Students have to attend full-time and meet grade point requirements.
   Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam   
Tenn. to offer free tuition at community colleges
Apr 17th 2014 8:47PM

The state of Tennessee is making it very difficult for students to decide not to go to college. And it's probably not for the reason you're thinking. HLN reports:

"Tennessee high school grads, listen up, are soon going to be able to attend community college for free. Lawmakers have approved a bill that will pay all tuition and fees for two years."

Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us. Especially when you consider the fact that College Board found in 2013 the average cost of a two-year degree at an in-state school costs more than $10,000 per year. On average, it costs students about $18,000 per year for a four-year degree at an in-state school.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam laid out a proposal for this program back in February when he gave his State of the State address.

The Washington Post reported at the time, Haslam said the government would set aside $300 million from the state's lottery fund to help cover the costs.

WKRN notes that the governor's plan to take money away from the lottery fund will mean the Hope Scholarships, which are funded from that lottery reserve, will be cut from $4,000 to $3,500 for freshman and sophomores at four-year universities.

At the same time, Tennessee plans to increase the scholarship for juniors and seniors from $4,000 to $5,000.

This college tuition program is a large part of Haslam's "Drive to 55" initiative, which The Tennessean describes as an "initiative aimed at increasing the number of college graduates from 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025."

The program, now called The Tennessee Promise, mandates all recipients meet five requirements.

First, they must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. They must work with an assigned mentor and attend a college orientation. Students are also required to maintain their grades and finally, perform one day of community service each semester. notes Oregon and Mississippi have also discussed the idea of offering students two free years of community college, but Tennessee is the first state to adopt the proposal.

The Tennessee Promise program will take effect in fall 2015. The state is expecting 25,000 students to apply.

High school graduates in Tennessee will receive free tuition to a community college under new state plan: Higher Education Roundup

CLEVELAND, Ohio - All high school graduates in Tennessee will receive free tuition to a community college or technical school in the state, under a plan approved by the state's House of Representatives Tuesday, following a similar vote in the Senate.

The Tennessee Promise, proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam, will take effect in fall 2015. It will be funded by $300 million from the state's lottery fund. The state expects 25,000 students to apply and it would cost an estimated $34 million a year.

Students have to attend full-time and meet grade point requirements.

Haslam, a Republican, has pushed the plan as a key way for the state to encourage a larger share of the population to seek college credentials. The idea of offering two years of free community college tuition has also been discussed in other states, including Oregon and Mississippi, but the Tennessee plan is the first to be adopted.

The proposals indicate the tuition funds would be "last-dollar scholarships," and cover the cost after all sources of aid have been received, including federal Pell Grants.

Student loan income-based repayment programs debated: There is little disagreement that paying off student loans through an income-based repayment program is a good idea but advocates say current programs need to be simplified and streamlined, according to Inside Higher Ed.

And there is a debate among higher education researches and policy makers about whether the federal government should automatically enroll borrowers in the program as they leave school.

About 11 percent of all federal borrowers are currently enrolled in repayment plans.

The government currently offers an array of seven repayment programs and some researchers have called for a single federal income-based repayment program that automatically deducts payments from borrowers’ paychecks, a model that has been used in other countries, such as Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Representative Tom Petri, a Wisconsin Republican, has introduced legislation to that effect.

On Monday, several papers on student financial support funded by the Lumina Foundation and discussed at an event in Washington D.C. added to that debate.

Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access & Success, which helped develop the framework for the federal administration’s expansion of income-based repayment, said her group had concluded that automatic enrollment in the programs would not be a good policy.

President Barack Obama’s administration last month called for some changes to income-based repayment programs. Its fiscal year 2015 budget proposes trimming some of the benefits that accrue to borrowers under the income-driven plans, including caps on the amount of debt that is forgiven and extending the payment period for some borrowers with high debt loads, Inside Higher Ed reported.

The House Republican budget released earlier this month by Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin similarly calls for cuts in the benefits for income-based repayment plans.

Affordability, State Policy & Passive Repayment Covered by 15 Authors in Papers Released Today

WASHINGTON, DC – Today Lumina Foundation releases a group of 15 expert papers that explore new models of student financial support. These papers are all aimed at addressing one of the biggest barriers to college completion: the amount of money students are required to pay to complete a postsecondary degree or certificate. Considerable research suggests that students are price-sensitive and that financial resources are a necessary tool to help students meet the cost of tuition and fees, as well as transportation, child care, and other indirect expenses, particularly among low-income students. These studies show that the structures currently in place to help students pay these costs are not set up to efficiently provide both access and support completion.

The papers, commissioned by the Foundation, are intended to stimulate greater discussion and evaluation around several key topics in student finance, including affordability of higher education, student loan repayment, and federal-state-institutional partnerships. The papers are aimed at addressing solutions that can be implemented at the institutional, state and federal levels.

“We believe it is time to fundamentally rethink our national approach to student financing,” said Jamie Merisotis, president & CEO of Lumina Foundation. “Only through substantive redesign can we assure that tuition and financial aid resources are used to support the success of the much larger number of students needed to reach Goal 2025. This launch of the comprehensive policy papers is an early step in that redesign effort.”

Last year, Lumina Foundation developed and released a set of design principles to guide the Foundation’s work in this area. The principles were unveiled this past May in a Huffington Post blog authored by Merisotis.

Using the design principles as a guide, Lumina Foundation invited nationally recognized experts as well as up-and-coming analysts to author the papers that will be discussed during today’s Ideas Summit at the Newseum in Washington, DC. The papers can be found online at The titles and authors of the papers are as follows:

A College Considerator: Robert Shireman, California Competes, Lande Ajose, California Competes

A Student Level Analysis of Financial Aid: Richard Rhoda, Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Russ Deaton, Tennessee Higher Education Commission, David Wright, Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Doug Mennen, Tennessee Higher Education Commission

Advancing Shared Responsibility as a Model for Contemporary State Grant Aid Programs: Brian T. Prescott, WICHE, David A. Longanecker, WICHE

Applying the Lessons of Behavioral Economics to Improve the Federal Student Loan Programs: Six Policy Recommendations: Angela Boatman, Vanderbilt University, Brent Evans, Vanderbilt University, Adela Soliz, Harvard University

Can Income-Driven Repayment Policies be Efficient, Effective, and Equitable? Nicholas Hillman, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jacob Gross, University of Louisville

College Affordability for Low Income Adults: Improving Returns on Investment for Families and Society: Barbara Gault, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Lindsey Reichlin, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Meghan Froehner, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Stephanie Roman, Institute for Women’s Policy Research

College Affordability: What Is It and How Can We Measure It? Sandy Baum, George Washington University and The Urban Institute Jennifer Ma, The College Board

College Costs: Students Can’t Afford Not to Know: Brad Hershbein, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, Kevin Hollenbeck, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

Estimating the Costs and Benefits of Income-Based Student Loan Repayment Systems: Beth Akers, Brookings Institution, Matthew Chingos, Brookings Institution

From Income-based Repayment Plans to an Income-based Loan System: Robert G. Sheets, George Washington Institute for Public Policy, George Washington University, Stephen Crawford, George Washington Institute for Public Policy, George Washington University

Moving the Needle: How Financial Aid Policies Can Help States Meet Student Completion Goals: Andy Carlson, SHEEO, Katie Zaback, SHEEO

Piecing Together the College Affordability Puzzle: Student Characteristics and Patterns of (Un)Affordability: Rashida Welbeck, MDRC, John Diamond, MDRC, Alexander Mayer, MDRC, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, MDRC with Melvin Gutierrez, MDRC & Jessica Gingrich, MDRC

Putting Colleges on Notice: Crafting Smarter Strategies to Improve Affordability through Curbing Cost Increases: Alisa Hicklin Fryar, University of Oklahoma, Deven Carlson, University of Oklahoma

Securing America’s Future with a Universal Two-Year College Option: Sara Goldrick-Rab, Education Optimists and University of Wisconsin-Madison, Nancy Kendall, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Should All Student Loan Payments Be Income-Driven? Benefits, Trade-offs, and Challenges: Lauren Asher, The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), Diane Cheng, The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), Jessica Thompson, The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS)

“Our goal in this series is not to prescribe a particular solution or choose one course of action,” said Merisotis. “Rather, we seek to generate innovative ideas for improving the ways in which postsecondary education is paid for in this country and to stimulate further discussion on that vital topic.”

Each paper reflects the views and recommendations of its authors, not those of Lumina Foundation.

Lumina’s Strategy Director, Zakiya Smith, oversees the Foundation’s work in student financial support and will head up the paper launch event at the Newseum today.

About Lumina Foundation: Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina’s outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025. For more information, log on to:

Media contact:

Lucia Anderson Weathers
Lumina Foundation

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