NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ With a month left for high school seniors to apply, 22,800 students have already registered for Gov. Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Promise program.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports the enrollment number was cited by Mike Krause during a Friday meeting of the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Krause is the executive director of the state’s Drive to 55 initiative to increase the number of Tennesseans who have college degrees or certificates to 55 percent by the year 2025 in order to help improve overall job qualifications and attract employers to the state.

Tennessee Promise, which allows high school graduates to attend two-year state community colleges or colleges of applied technology for free, is a cornerstone of Drive to 55.

Funded through interest from Tennessee Education Lottery funds, the Tennessee Promise provides “last dollar” money to students who have other forms of financial aid. It picks up the full tuition tab for students who don’t. The program also requires students to work with a mentor and complete eight hours of community service a year.

After graduation from the two-year colleges, students who choose to attend a four-year school can do so as juniors.

In a statement Friday evening, Haslam called Tennessee Promise a “game-changer.”

“It’s a clear statement to families that education beyond high school is a priority in Tennessee, and we’re excited that so many have signed up to take advantage of this new opportunity,” Haslam’s statement said.


Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press,