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guestview: Steve Cohen (TN-09)

Gov. [Bill] Haslam says he is “flattered” that President [Barack] Obama used Tennessee Promise as a model for the national America’s College Promise program. But, in reality, the biggest correlation between the two programs is the name.

First, as Gov. Haslam acknowledged this week, Tennessee’s program does not come out of the General Budget. Instead, Tennessee Promise robs the existing Lottery Scholarship programs. Tennessee Promise takes $500 per year from college students who worked hard in high school to earn the Tennessee HOPE Lottery Scholarship to attend a four-year college or community college. It reduces by $125 per semester the HOPE Access Grants for achieving, low-income students to attend four-year colleges. Tennessee Promise also eliminates future growth of the HOPE Lottery Scholarships. As a result, the HOPE Lottery Scholarships will now cover less and less of the cost of college as tuition continues to increase. Unlike the Tennessee Promise, the president’s plan would not destroy Pell grants or other current programs designed to provide opportunity to attend college. America’s College Promise would supplement, not supplant, those programs.
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