published Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Tennessee lawmakers pass Gov. Bill Haslam's free tuition plan

NASHVILLE — Gov. Bill Haslam's signature proposal to create a program that would cover tuition at two-year colleges for any high school graduate is headed to his desk.

The House approved the plan 87-8 on Tuesday, a day after the Senate approved the legislation 30-1.

Called "Tennessee Promise," the legislation is a cornerstone of Haslam's "Drive to 55" campaign to improve the state's graduation rates from the current 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025 to help improve overall job qualifications and attract employers to the state.

Haslam wants to pay for the program by using $300 million in excess lottery reserve funds and join it with a $47 million endowment.

One concern of higher education officials and lawmakers is making sure the plan is adequately funded.

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