Record Application Year for Tennessee Promise

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A record number of students applied for the Tennessee Promise program this year, according to a Monday press release from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The commission also published its annual report on the program’s progress.

Preliminary data show 64,612 high school seniors applied to the program during the most recent application cycle, which closed Nov. 1. The Tennessee Promise program, launched in 2015, is a last-dollar free tuition scholarship for community college students in the state.

The report found that, since the program began, 123,000 students have received $181 million in scholarships, and 31,000 students benefiting from the program have earned a credential. More than 15,000 Tennessee Promise students transferred to a four-year university in the state. Enrollment in the program dipped in 2021 alongside the college-going rate among high school seniors that year. The report also found disparities in who enrolls in the program after applying. For example, Black students made up 20 percent of applicants but only 12 to 15 percent of Tennessee Promise students.

The commission launched what it’s calling a “momentum year” this fall, an initiative to boost college-going rates in the state and align higher education offerings with state workforce needs.

“With Tennessee’s college-going rate trending downward over the past five years, the entire state is coming together to take swift action to inform and engage more students with the many educational and job training options they have after high school,” the press release said.