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Tennessee Promise is showing promise for high school grads


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TNS/WMOT)  --  A new report is offering up some good news for Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature Tennessee Promise program.

The first of its kind in the nation program provides two years of free college to the state’s high school graduates.

Data released this month by the state shows Tennessee Promise students are more likely to succeed in college and less likely to drop out.

In 2015, 56-percent of Tennessee Promise students who entered college remained in school through graduation, while only 39-percent of high-school graduates outside the program did the same.

Tennessee Board of Regents Vice Chancellor Russ Deaton recently told WMOT the state’s 13 community college have worked hard to achieve those results.

“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.”

Mike Krause with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission says Tennessee Promise also has a second success story to tell. Tennessee Promise students are are volunteering tens of thousands of hours of free service to the state's nonprofit groups, a program requirement.

"We're able to help a lot of organizations across the state accomplish their mission with these hours of volunteer work. But second, we hope that we're really creating that culture of being an involved citizen with the students – and that ultimately doesn't just make them a better student, it makes them a better Tennesseean."

Krause says an added bonus is that the students often get to volunteer at nonprofits that relate to their career goals and interests, adding professional experience to their resumes.