Tennessee has passed a bi-partisan bill that will allow every high school graduate inside of the state to attend a two-year community college or technical school for free. The law, called Tennessee Promise, passed both the state House and Senate. It will start in 2015 and apply to all college freshmen.
The law will be fully funded thanks to the Tennessee Lottery. Many state’s use their lottery funds to help their residents. When Tennessee residents voted to allow gambling in their state, they were promised it would go towards education. This is not the first time Tennessee has tried to pass a bill that would allow their students to attend college for free. Former Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen attempted to pass similar legislation, but it ultimately failed thanks to the Republicans in the Legislature. This time around, Republican Governor Bill Haslam proposed the same exact plan and it passed the Tennessee House 87-8.
Tennessee is not the first state to offer free college education to state residents.
Tennessee is not the first state to offer free education to residents of their state. Michigan passed a pay-it-forward bill that would give students a free ride through college, and they would pay back a percentage of their income when they find a job after graduation. A more educated populace means higher incomes, which translates into more tax-revenue for the state. It is a win-win for everybody. While it may not cover an entire four-year program, it is enough to give somebody a chance that otherwise may not have received one due to economic circumstances. Although the bill was originally a Democratic idea, and it is very possible the only reason it was passed was due to the midterms, it still will translate into a lot of good for a lot of people.