Tennessee To Become First U.S. State To Offer Free Community College For Adults

The best part? The new program won't cost taxpayers a dime.

Credit: The New Times

“Knowledge is power” remains to be an accurate statement, but the truth is, few can afford higher education nowadays. Fortunately, classes at community colleges in Tennessee are about to become a whole lot more accessible to adults thanks to an initiative being pushed forward by Governor Haslam.

TN reports that already, the U.S. state offers free community college to recent high school graduates. But the politician wants that rewarding opportunity to extend to adults, as well.

During the seventh State of the State address to the General Assembly, Governor Haslam introduced the Tennessee Reconnect Act. If approved, Tennessee would become the first – and only – state to offer all citizens the chance to earn a post-secondary degree or certificate free of tuition and fees. Considering approximately 44 million Americans owe $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, this is an enticing offer few could refuse.

When the expansion was introduced at the end of January 2017, it had already garnered enthusiastic bi-bipartisan support. Perhaps this is because the program, named the Tennessee Promise, won’t cost taxpayers a dime. All funding is received from Federal Pell Grants and state lottery money.

“Just as we did with Tennessee Promise, we’re making a clear statement to families: wherever you might fall on life’s path, education beyond high school is critical to the Tennessee we can be,” Haslam expressed during his speech. “At the end of the day, there is no higher potential for providing more opportunity for our citizens than increasing access to high quality education. And the point is, we’re doing it while maintaining discipline and responsibility to the taxpayer – keeping taxes and debt low and saving for when the economy ultimately slows.”

A primary goal of the Tennessee Promise is to ensure 55% of the state’s 66 million population has a postsecondary degree or certificate by 2025. In order for this to be realized, 871,000 more people need to return to school. Free college will undoubtedly help make that goal a reality.

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