A coalition of private colleges in Tennessee has offered up an alternate plan to fund Governor Haslam's Tennessee Promise Program.
The plan, which aims to make community college free for all recent high school graduates, is currently slated to use funds from the Hope Scholarship. Instead of the $4,000 per year grant that the Hope Scholarship currently provides, students at four-year colleges would receive $3,000 in their first two years and $5,000 for their final two years. This change to the state's largest merit-based scholarship has many four-year institutions up in arms. They fear that a reduction in Hope Scholarship money will negatively impact freshman and sophomore enrollment in four-year colleges.
Private colleges are suggesting the use of funds from another lottery-funded scholarship, the Aspire Award, which is granted to low-income students to supplement their Hope Scholarship. Aspire, which would become unnecessary for community college students under the Promise Program, would be reduced by $500 for four-year college recipients. The plan would keep the Hope Scholarship fully intact and give $500 more in scholarship money for Aspire Award students than Haslam's plan allows.
Governor Haslam has received the proposal and is now reviewing it.