UPDATED 10:59 AM PT — Monday, May 13, 2019
While Democrat 2020 front runners continue to promote the idea of free college tuition, one GOP state has already enacted a similar program.
Tennessee, a historically Republican state, has offered a program called Tennessee Promise since 2014. Though similar to the plan being proposed by Democrats, this one is both simpler and less costly.
Unlike the plan proposed by presidential hopefuls like Senator Elizabeth Warren, which use billions of tax payer dollars to expand grants and eliminate student loan debt, the Tennessee law gives students something called a “need-based” scholarship. This means the state will pay for any school-related costs, which have not already been covered by financial aid, federal grants or other scholarships.
This is something then-Governor Bill Haslam claimed would encourage residents to continue their education.
“The Tennessee Promise is an ongoing commitment to high school graduates that they can attend two-years of a community college or a college of an applied technology absolutely free of tuition and fees,” stated Haslam.
The program is available to all high school graduates regardless of their economic status. Local and national advocates have said the program has been widely successful.
According to state agencies, the overall student loan debt in the state dropped substantially since the law was passed. Figures show Tennessee has the 10th lowest student loan debt in the nation.