In Nashville, Tennessee, Governor Bill Haslam’s proposal for a program that would cover full costs for high school graduates to attend a two-year college looks likely to pass legislation. The ‘Tennessee Promise’ is a plan to improve the current 32% graduation rate up to 55% by 2025 in a bid to improve qualified job applicants and attract employers to the state.
Any high school graduate from any high school will be eligible for the program if it passes. If a student then chooses to attend a four-year university, they would enter the program in their third year. Oregon, Mississippi and Florida are considering similar platforms.
The question remains about how costs for such an ambitious program will be paid and the answers remain sketchy. It’s expected to cost around $34 million annually, and Haslam wants to pay for the program using $300 million in excess lottery reserves.
Many in the students and parents across the state are excited about the proposal, with the costs of colleges across the nation rising, any help is a great help says Cody Mitchell, a 22 year old graduate from Pellissippi State Community College.
Even at a community college, it’s not cheap. You’ve got all that debt … waiting for you. That money can go to a lot of other things.
The added realistic benefit is to not swell four-year universities with ill-prepared students. By encouraging graduating high school students to attend a two-year first as many of half of those students will receive their degrees in that two-year span in their desired field. This includes nurses, welders, electricians and other forms of skilled labor.
The ultimate goal is to simply lower the poverty rate by increasing skilled labor, while tapping into lottery money that is just collecting dust.