TICUA proposes funding alternative for "Tennessee Promise"

TICUA proposes funding alternative for "Tennessee Promise"


6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -  The Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA) has introduced a funding alternative for Gov. Bill Haslam's plan to give free college tuition for the first two years of community college for high school graduates.

The plan is dubbed the "Tennessee Promise" and was outlined during Haslam's State of the State address last month.

TICUA said it fully supports the plan, but is offering an amendment to its funding mechanism.

TICUA President Claude Presnell said it all comes down to concerns over Haslam's original plan to reduce funding for the first two years at four-year colleges in order to cover the cost of the "Tennessee Promise."   

"What really is fundamentally important is that students have a full range of choice," President of Maryville College Tom Bogart said. "By reducing the amount available to freshmen, it puts a real burden on families who are trying to make decisions about where the best fit for their student would be. We completely support the governor's goal at improving both access and completion at all the colleges in Tennessee."

TICUA instead recommends eliminating a supplement of the HOPE Scholarship called the Aspire Award for community college students and reducing the amount for four-year college students.

Presnell called the alternative a "win, win" for all parties.

The Aspire Award offers funding for students in low-income families but TICUA said those students would still be eligible for more than $5,000 in Pell Grants and additional funding.

"I think it's important to know that those students who would lose some of their Aspire funding generally receive full funding through the Pell Grant program and that combined with other resources gives them ample funding for their living expenses while they're in their first two years," LMU President Jim Dawson said. "We will be a stronger state as a result of this initiative and we do believe that it is important for students to see a bright future."

"Our hope is that the Tennessee Promise proposal will include encouragement for a four-year degree, as well as a two-year degree," Carson-Newman University President Randall O'Brien said. "Governor Haslam is to be commended for his bold education vision and flexible funding options.

Presnell said a task force was created last month to create the funding proposal.

The House Education subcommittee passed HB2491, which enacts the "Tennessee Promise" and revises certain provisions in the Tennessee HOPE Scholarship program. The bill now goes to the full education committee.



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