A Tennessee bill with support from both sides of the aisle plans to provide any high school graduate with a full-ride scholarship for a two-year community college.
A Tennessee bill introduced this year could soon provide free education at a two-year community college for all high school graduates, potentially cutting the cost of college in half for thousands of students.
The plan, called "Tennessee Promise," is an effort to raise the number of college graduates from one out of three students to more than one out of two in the next decade to create a more educated and desirable workforce in the state.
To provide every college graduate who opts into the program with two years of community college would cost the state millions, but Gov. Bill Haslam said that the state could use $300 million in extra funds from the lottery reserves as well as a $47 million endowment to lower annual costs to around $34 million.
The move could save thousands for students looking to attain a Bachelor's degree. Students from Tennessee who attend Nashville State Community College, one of the state's 13 community colleges, pay around $3,300 for two years of full-time classes, while in-state students at the University of Tennessee pay $22,300 for two years of full-time classes.
As tuition costs rise at four-year colleges, most students can no longer work part-time or rely on financial aid to fully cover tuition costs. The bill could provide access to a bachelor's degree for thousands of students from low-income families. Politicians in Oregon and Mississippi are considering similar measures to improve states' economic outlooks by increasing access to higher education.