Governor Finishes Promotional Tour Of ‘Tennessee Promise’ Bill Signings

Gov. Bill Haslam gives out pens to Overton High School students after the final ceremonially signing of the bill. Credit: Micah Bradley / WPLN

The governor handed out pens to Overton High School students after the final ceremonially signing of the bill. Credit: Micah Bradley / WPLN

Gov. Bill Haslam signed the “Tennessee Promise” bill into law Friday — for the seventh time.

He’s been holding ceremonial signings around the state this week to promote the push for more college graduates. The legislation will let any Tennessee resident attend community college for free.

At the final ceremony, the governor asked a group of about 50 students at Overton High School in Nashville how many of them wanted to go to college. Almost all raised their hands.

He said he wants to make sure students know Tennessee Promise is an option.

“Yesterday, I was at a high school, and a guidance counselor came up to me and said, ‘I had no idea that we were doing this in Tennessee.’ I mean, if our college counselors don’t know about it, then obviously we need to do a better job of getting out and telling the story.”

Cameron Holifield, a junior at Overton, said she had been planning to go to a four-year school, but Tennessee Promisemight change her plans.

“Now I might actually think about going to a two-year college and transferring to a four-year college to help with expenses,” she said.

The legislation is expected to dole out $34 million a year to pay for the difference between tuition and a student’s financial aid package — money that comes, in part, from lottery reserve funds. By one estimate, community colleges and tech schools may see an influx of 5,600 students over the next few years.