High school seniors eligible for Tennessee Promise

Bonnie Fussell, The Portland Leader

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam initiated a program that will provide all Tennessee high school graduates with the opportunity to attend a community college or Tennessee College of Applied Technology free of tuition and fees.

Tennessee Promise is a last-dollar scholarship that will pay the balance after all other financial aid is applied. Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by Feb. 1 of each year beginning in high school and continue to do so each year the student is enrolled in college.

The scholarship can be used at any of Tennessee’s 27 colleges of applied technology, 13 community colleges, and any public four-year university offering an associate’s degree or certificate. Four-year universities in Tennessee that offer an associate’s degree are Austin Peay State University and Tennessee State University. Thirteen in-state independent colleges and universities offer the associate’s degree.

Funding for the program will come from approximately $300 million in excess lottery reserve fund and the $47 million endowment created by the General Assembly in 2013 to fund the program in perpetuity.

Students will be required to meet certain requirements in order to receive the scholarship. In addition to applying for the FAFSA, other requirements include working with an assigned mentor, attending a college orientation, maintaining satisfactory academic progress, and performing one day of community service each semester.

Tennessee Achieves is the designated organization for Sumner County to participate in Tennessee Promise. Because of the way Tennessee Achieves is set up, there is no additional cost to the county to utilize their services.

County Executive Anthony Holt is in the process of establishing the advisory committee which will work with Tennessee Achieves. Sumner County Schools and Volunteer State Community College will be actively involved along with other representatives from the community.

Tennessee Promise is supported by the Drive to 55 Alliance whose focus is to help successfully launch the scholarship program. The alliance is made up of citizens in the private sector. The goal of the Drive to 55 initiative is to have 55 percent of Tennesseans with a college degree or certificate by 2025.

High school students should contact their guidance counselors for more information on Tennessee Promise.

For more information on Tennessee Achieves, visit https://www.tnachieves.org/. For more information on how to enroll before Nov. 1, 2014, go to http://tnpromise.gov/students.shtml.

Student Checklist/Deadlines

Nov. 1, 2014  Apply to the Tennessee Promise program.

Feb. 15, 2015  File FAFSA application

March 15, 2015  Attend first mandatory meeting with partnering organization.

May 31, 2015 Attend second mandatory meeting with partnering organization.

Spring   Apply to a community or technical college.

Aug. 1, 2015   Complete FAFSA verification and complete 8 hours of community service.

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