Responding to Free
Community colleges across Tennessee are starting their academic year with many students who may have never thought they would attend an institution of higher learning, but who are taking advantage of the Tennessee Promise program, which offers them a free two-year college education.
Although official numbers won't be available until after the 14th day of enrollment, Tennessee Promise has 22,534 college freshmen as of the last August deadline to remain in the program, said Mike Krause, executive director of Tennessee Promise, the signature program of Governor Bill Haslam, a Republican.
Those numbers are well above the 13,000 students projected for the program a year ago, he said. Last fall, there were about 17,000 new freshmen enrolled in the state's community colleges and in 2013 about 11,400 incoming freshmen entered the community colleges straight after high school, according to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. It is that latter group of freshmen -- those who are immediate high school graduates -- that have been the target for Tennessee Promise, so the large participation numbers this fall show the state's initiative has had a considerable impact on them.