Lawmakers in Nashville recently passed a free tuition plan proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam that will offer free tuition to any Tennessee high school graduate (including home school graduates) attending a technical school or two-year college program in the state. This program will be funded by $300 million in excess lottery fund reserves as well as a $47 million dollar endowment.
Who will receive these funds?
This program will be available to Tennessee seniors graduation in 2015 and after. While any graduate is eligible, he or she must maintain a satisfactory GPA (generally 2.0) and attend for consecutive semesters, starting with the fall semester immediately following high school graduation, in order to continue receiving the scholarship. Additional requirements include meetings with an appointed mentor from a partnering organization, completing the FAFSA by February 1st each year beginning senior year and continuing throughout the college years, maintaining 12 hours a semester, and completing 8 hours of community service each semester.
How much money can my student receive?
The amount of the award will be determined when all other sources of financial aid such as the HOPE scholarship (but not loans or work study) have been taken into consideration. The funds for remaining tuition costs will then be sent directly to the college.
Which schools are covered by Tennessee Promise?
The funds can be used at any of the state’s 27 Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) or 13 community colleges. The only four-year universities, whether independent or public, that will be included are those that offer an associate’s degree.
HOPE Scholarship Changes
Changes in award amounts resulting from Tennessee Promise
When the Tennessee Promise plan goes into effect in 2015, the amount of the Tennessee HOPE scholarship will decrease 4,000 to 3,000 annually for college freshman and sophomores, but increase to 5,000 for juniors and seniors. Also, for students pursuing a 2-year degree the amount will change from 2,000 to 3,000.
New definition of “Home School Student”
Senate Bill 1773, passed on March 28th of this year, included an updated definition of a home school student. The expanded definition recognizes schools in which a parent can homeschool a child as a teacher in the church-related school in which the child is enrolled, without requiring families to register with the district. This draws HomeLife students into the definition of “home school students” which they were previously not included in. Students must have a 21 on the ACT, as before, but must also be registered for at least one year in order to receive the scholarship.