Tennessee Promise students head to class with free tuition - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tennessee Promise students head to class with free tuition

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

It's a new era in Tennessee when it comes to higher education.

The high school graduates who enrolled in Tennessee Promise started their two years of tuition-free attendance at state community and technical colleges.

Earon Green is one of many students who just started attending Southwest Tennessee Community College under the Tennessee Promise program, which pays up to $2,000 of a student's tuition each semester.

The program began this year as a way to help more students go on to higher education.

"It has the opportunity or potential to have a major impact, especially on a city like Memphis, where you look at the poverty rate in this city and you look at the degree of attainment in this city," said Dr. Dwayne Scott of Southwest Tennessee Community College.

Louis Howard said, until now, it has been difficult for many of his family members to go on to college. He sees Tennessee Promise as an important first step.

"I think Tennessee Promise is giving that chance because I think it's probably going to open up more people saying, 'I can go to college,' and that's a good thing," Howard said.

Students must apply for Tennessee Promise and complete everything from pre-verification work to community service in order to be eligible.

Educators are already noticing a different attitude among people in the community.

"Individuals who never thought they could get an education, they are now talking about going to college," Dr. Scott added.

And now, Earon Green said the sky is the limit.

"I would either like to work on computers for a company or I might even own my own company," he said.

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