A new state initiative in funding higher education shows indications that the state scholarship program will boost technical training.
The Tennessee Promise scholarship will fully fund two years of college or training for qualifying high school graduates.
The bill, championed by Governor Bill Haslam as a way to make college more accessible and improve the state’s workforce, was approved overwhelmingly by the House (87-8) and the Senate (30-1) in the final days of the Tennessee General Assembly.
The program essentially replaces Tennessee Achieves, a last-dollar scholarship program that has spread to many counties in the state – including Jefferson – over the past few years. It also makes slight adjustments in amounts given through the Hope Scholarship to students attending either two-year or four-year colleges and universities.
Funding will be provided through an endowment created with $300 million taken from the state’s Lottery For Education account, as well as excess funds from lottery proceeds each year, going forward.
“It’s basically Tennessee Achieves on a statewide level,” said John Cagle, Assistant Principal for Career and Technical Education at Jefferson County High.
The program will retain many of the components of Tennessee Achieves – mentoring of students by community and education leaders, community service, and the same scholastic requirements to keep the scholarship.
Cagle has been closely involved with the Tennessee Achieves program over the last three years at JCHS, as both principal and as a member of the Education Foundation team of Building A Better Future. As part of its support of local education, the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce has taken care of raising matching funds for the scholarships.
Those matching funds will no longer be needed starting in the fall of 2015, however. Tennessee Promise picks up the costs of two years of study at a community college, or technical school.
Cagle is particularly excited about the opportunity for students to get fully-funded technical training, which has not been available before.