The application deadline for the Tennessee Promise was November 1, and nearly 45,000 students had applied for the program since its announcement in January of 2014.
The state anticipated that roughly 20,000 students in the high school graduating class of 2015 would apply when the program was initially presented by Gov. Bill Haslam at his State of the State address. Despite the the number of applicants being more than double that estimate so far, state officials are not concerned about funding or space within the 13 state community colleges that will take on these students.
This sense of security comes from the state having more than $300 million dedicated to paying for the tuition. Additionally, Tennessee Promise is a “last dollar” scholarship, meaning money from the program will only serve as a supplement to any other scholarship awards or financial aid a student may receive to completely fund that student’s tuition.
The more money a student can get from other scholarships, like the Hope Scholarship or Pell Grant, the less they would receive from the Tennessee Promise funds, while a student who did not qualify for as many scholarships would have much more of their tuition paid out of Tennessee Promise.
Space isn’t expected to be a problem either. The recession saw an increase in community college enrollment as more people were going back to school to improve their chances of finding a job, and as the economy continues to recover, enrollment is expected to drop again. During the past several years, community colleges have created a new infrastructure capable of handling a larger population.
Essentially two-thirds of all high school seniors in the state have applied to the Tennessee Promise. The large number is due in part to some districts asking all of their seniors to apply for the program whether or not they plan to attend a community college.
Regardless of the number of applicants, there are numerous requirements along the way that students must meet in order to remain a part of the program. If a student does not complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or misses a meeting with their program mentor, they will be dropped from the Tennessee Promise program.
The initial estimated number of students who will ultimately receive the scholarship was 12,000, and state officials still see that prediction coming to fruition.
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