Brian Wilson, The Daily News Journal
MURFREESBORO – Nearly four of five Tennesseans approve of the Tennessee Promise community college plan, according to the latest Middle Tennessee State University poll.
The portion of the MTSU Poll released Wednesday showed a 79 percent approval rate for the intiative providing free community college or technical school classes to recent high school graduates, according to a university release. Twelve percent of those polled oppose the plan, while another 8 percent weren’t sure about it.
Organizers spoke with 600 people as part of the poll that had a 4 percent margin of error, according to the release. The data was released at the annual Associated Press-Tennessee Press Association legislative preview session.
The program announced in 2014 will use interest from a newly created Tennessee Lottery endowment fund to help pay for whatever federal and state aid won’t cover. While about 58,000 students applied for the program, it is unknown how many will take part in it when classes begin in the fall.
“While the overall support is very high, a deeper look inside the numbers shows less enthusiasm among Republicans,” said Jason Reineke, associate director of the poll at Middle Tennessee State University, in the release.
Democrats provide the highest level of support for the Tennessee Promise at 90 percent. Independents endorsed the program at an 82 percent rate, while only 70 percent of Republicans embraced the plan.
The program was considered the basis for a similar proposal heralded by President Barack Obama when he unveiled it in Knoxville and mentioned it in his State of the Union address. The $60 billion plan called America’s College Promise would extend a similar plan across the country if approved by Congress.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Brian Wilson at 615-278-5165 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brianwilson17.