Tennessee Promise: Haslam proposes free education to graduating - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Tennessee Promise: Haslam proposes free education to graduating seniors

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

In the State of the State address Monday night, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said the state will not meet revenue projections, so they'll once again be looking to make cuts in most every department, working to meet needs not wants.

But in education, noting that the biggest hurdle most families face when seeking higher learning is cost.  He proposed a program he calls "Tennessee Promise".

Bill Haslam, (R) Tennessee Governor, "The Tennessee Promise is an on going commitment to every student, from every kindergartner to every high school senior, we will promise that he or she can attend two years of community college or a college of applied technology, absolutely free."

The program would be funded through interest on an endowment set up using Tennessee Lottery reserve funds.

The governor hopes it would not only raise the percentage of Tennesseans with at least a trade certificate or two year degree, but also lower the cost of 4-year colleges with the student left only having to pay for the last two years.

We spoke with Senator Bo Watson from Signal Mountain. He says the General Assembly has been laying the infrastructure for something like this for years. And he's interested to get into how the governor has put this together to be viable for the long-term.

Bo Watson, (R) State Senator, "The devil is always in the details, but I think from the response of the General Assembly on the floor tonight when the governor announced it, there seemed to be quite a bit of support for the concept."

We spoke with Dr. Jim Catanzaro, President of Chattanooga State, Monday evening.  He says *Tennessee Promise* could be a game changer for the state. He added with staggered classes and online courses, Chatt State is ready to accommodate a rise in enrollment. He's headed to Nashville Tuesday morning to do what he can to support the proposal.

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