Nearly half of Shelby County TN Promise students no longer eligi - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Nearly half of Shelby County TN Promise students no longer eligible

(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5) (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)

Nearly half of all Shelby County students who signed up for the Tennessee Promise free college scholarship program are no longer eligible. But, some people say that's not such a bad thing. 

While Tennessee Promise Executive Director Mike Krause says Shelby County led the charge enrolling students, nearly have of those who enrolled are not eligible mainly because they missed the March 1 deadline to meet with their mentor. Others did not fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form.

"We are encouraging them, if you didn't meet the Tennessee Promise deadline, continue on and fill out your FAFSA and see what financial aid is available," Krause said.

In Shelby County, 8,500 students originally applied for the program, but only 5,364 met current requirements.

Soulsville Charter School is praised each year when every senior gets accepted into college. College counselor Meggan Kiel says their model allows each student to get special attention.

"We're dividing our college counseling and separating that from guidance counseling. So it's really focused and we can spend a lot of time with each senior," said Kiel.

She says low-income students already qualify for Pell Grants and there are fewer hoops to jump through. For those grants, students simply fill out a FAFSA form. 

For Tennessee Promise, students must fill out the Promise application, a FAFSA application, meet with a mentor on designated dates, and do community service.

Kiel says Tennessee Promise is better for famillies with higher incomes who don't qualify for Pell Grants.

"Most of our students, who are low-income and receive the full Pell Grant, actually receive a refund from their Pell that they can then use for books, computers, and any other educational needs."

Despite the drop in eligible Tennessee Promise applicants, Krause says the state enrolled more FAFSA applications than ever.

"We had an 18 percent increase in 12 months," Krause explained. "That is unprecedented."

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