Haslam Free Education Proposal: "Devil is in the Details"

Feb 10, 2014

Governor Bill Haslam
Credit tn.gov

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — This past Monday Governor Bill Haslam announced a major new education initiative during his annual State of the State presentation.

Haslam proposed offering a free community or technology college education to every graduating Tennessee senior who wants it, an initiative he’s calling the Tennessee Promise.

Dr. Scott Boyd heads the Faculty Senate at Middle Tennessee State University. He says the educators he’s spoken to applaud any measure that helps students get a degree. He notes that college tuition rose dramatically in recent years as the state’s contribution to higher education fell sharply.

However, Boyd says the devil is in the details, observing that a free technical or community college education could divert students and funding from Tennessee’s four year universities.

“The questions revolve around how does this impact the four year institutions, both in TBR as well as in the UT system, and we’re not quite sure about that yet because we don’t quite have the details behind the nomenclature of the Tennessee promise.”

One detail the governor has provided is how he plans to pay for the new initiative. Haslam says the state can dip into its lottery reserves to help fund Tennessee Promise.