The University of Tennessee has a new free tuition program that will see its first students next year.
The new program, UT Promise, was announced by the university’s interim president, Randy Boyd, in his first state of the university speech on Thursday in Nashville.
UT Promise will guarantee free tuition and fees at a UT campus for students from families with a household income of under $50,000.
It is a “last-dollar scholarship” program that can be used after other financial aid (Pell Grants, HOPE Scholarship, or other institutional scholarships), the university said.
This newly announced program, different from a scholarship program in place with the same name “UT Promise” Scholarship. That scholarship provided funds to assist with tuition and fees for up to four years. Students eligible must attend specific Tennessee high schools, two in Knoxville: Austin East and Fulton.
A UT spokesperson says the original UT Promise Scholarship will be renamed after Boyd’s announcement of the new UT Promise program that will provide full tuition for qualifying Tennessee students.
Students must qualify for the HOPE Scholarship and meet the academic qualifications for the institution to be eligible.
One UT graduate, who received the Hope Scholarship and the original UT Promise Scholarship says these kinds of programs support students who might not have been able to afford college.
“My mother would always say, ‘I’d love for you to go to college but you’re going to have to pay your way through.’ So the Hope Scholarship, along with the [ original UT] Promise Scholarship, allowed me to do that,” said Michael Tarrant.
Tarrant graduated from UT in 2014, he says learning of the newly introduced UT Promise program is “paramount” for the success of students who, in high school, were not always sure college could become a reality.
“What it did for me is it allowed me an average circumstance, which coming from a below-average circumstance is a blessing,” said Tarrant.
The scholarship program will include students who were previously enrolled in community college through the Tennessee Promise program and eligible existing students who are enrolled at a UT campus.