The following was originally posted by Inside Higher Ed.
While many states and cities are still working through the details and funding behind their attempts to create a free community college program, Tennessee has been busy expanding its scholarship. The state was the first to create a free community college program. Now in its second year, the Tennessee Promise has led to student retention gains even as the number of participating students increases.
That success was highlighted recently by the state’s move to expand the Promise to include all adult residents through Tennessee Reconnect — which already allowed adult residents to earn a certificate for free at any Tennessee college of applied technology. (The expanded program requires adults to not already have an associate or bachelor’s degree, be a state resident for at least a year, apply for federal student aid, participate in an advising program and attend college at least part time.)
More than 33,000 students have received the Promise scholarship and enrolled in college since the program began in 2015, with nearly 23,300 enrolled in 2016. But, as some states and cities are learning, replicating an initiative like the Tennessee Promise isn’t an exact science. And there are a few common barriers many programs have faced, including finances and politics.
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