Tennessee May Become First State To Offer Tuition-Free Community College To Adults And High School Students

"We don’t want cost to be an obstacle anyone has to overcome."

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced his intention to extend an existing scholarship that allows high school students to go to community or technical colleges for free to adults. The Tennesseean reports that the announcement for the expansion of the Tennessee Promise scholarship, which has sent over 33,000 high school students to college for free since 2014, came as a surprise during Haslam's State of the State speech on Jan. 30.

Under the proposed expansion, any adult resident of Tennessee without a college degree could enroll in a Tennessee community college or technical school at no personal cost. The funds, which The Tennesseean reports would come to around $10 million dollars annually, would come from Tennessee's lottery. The expansion would make Tennessee the only state to offer free community college to high school students and adults.

"We need to reach the working mother that went to college but didn't complete, or the son with sons of his own who like his dad never went to college but knows that he needs to upgrade his skills," Haslam said in his speech. "Tonight, I'm introducing the next step in making certain that everyone in Tennessee has the opportunity to earn their degree."

 "We don't want cost to be an obstacle anyone has to overcome," he continued, "as they pursue their own generational change for themselves and their families."

Haslam, whose father was the first in his family to get a college degree thanks to a scholarship program, has long been an advocate of access to educational opportunities.

Cover photo via Shutterstock / Sean Pavone.

(H/T: The Tennesseean)

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