Tennessee Overwhelmingly Passes Free College Bill

Bill Haslam to sign proposal offering free 2-year schooling

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 17, 2014 10:19 AM CDT

(Newser) – Soon, every high school graduate in Tennessee will be able to afford at least some further education. The state's House overwhelmingly passed the "Tennessee Promise" bill Tuesday night; it offers graduates a two-and-a-half-year free ride to any qualifying associate's degree or technical certificate program, the Tennessean reports. Only students at schools offering two-year programs will be eligible. The bill already passed the state Senate, and Governor Bill Haslam is sure to sign—he's the one who proposed the bill in his February State of the State address.

The bill, which passed 87-8 in the House, will provide new opportunities for "that other group that never got to college," one rep tells the University of Tennessee's Daily Beacon. The bill will be paid for using $300 million in excess lottery funds and a new $47 million endowment. The bill also cuts Hope scholarships for freshmen and sophomores at state universities by $500 a year. It will come into effect in the fall of 2015.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam discusses Common Core with officials at Cedar Grove Elementary School in Smyrna, Tenn., in this March 18, 2014 file photo.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam discusses Common Core with officials at Cedar Grove Elementary School in Smyrna, Tenn., in this March 18, 2014 file photo.   (AP Photo/Daily News Journal, Helen Comer)
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