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We'll know soon if Tennessee Promise is keeping its promise


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --   Tennesseans will know by the end of the year just how effective Gov. Bill Haslam’s initiative has been to offer every high school senior in the state a free two-year college degree.


The governor’s Tennessee Promise program enrolled its first students a little over two years ago. Those students were given five semesters to graduate with an associate’s degree, or some type of technical training. That fifth semester is now underway and will end in December.


Russ Deaton is an Executive Vice Chancellor for the Tennessee Board of Regents. The Regents oversee Tennessee’s 13 community colleges and 27 technical schools.


Dr. Deaton says Promise caused a 25 percent jump in freshmen enrollment, prompting concerns the system might be overwhelmed. But he notes that, at the same time, overall enrollment was dropping as unemployed Tennesseans found work at the close of the recession.


“That enrollment increase in that freshman class had a little bit of regional trend I would say. A lot of the Middle Tennessee schools saw significant increases in their freshman class. Motlow State was up about 75 percent.”


The fact that many Promise students were not well prepared for college was another problem. Deaton says TBR ramped up efforts to keep those students from dropping out.


“The schools have been much more intentional, much more aggressive about bringing in more advisors to help students navigate through college, both the academic and just the social challenges of being in school.”


List to the complete interview with Dr. Deaton by clicking the link below.