Tennessee Promise: The proof is in the numbers

Tennessee Promise students with Gov. Bill Haslam at Cleveland State Community College’s commencement ceremony. (Photo: Nathan Ball Photography)

If you’re wondering if the Tennessee Promise works, the proof is in the numbers.

At Cleveland State Community College, students who have received the scholarship are outperforming students who didn’t, both in terms of retention and graduation rates, according to college officials.

In fall 2015, there were 466 Tennessee Promise students. The retention rates were as follows:

  • Fall 2015-spring 2016: 350 (75 percent, compared to 67 percent for non-Tennessee Promise students)
  • Fall 2015-fall 2016: 250 (54 percent, compared to only 33 percent for those not receiving the scholarship non-TN Promise)

There was also a 28 percent completion rate among Tennessee Promise students in the May 2016 graduating class, with a 13 percent completion rate among non-Tennessee Promise students, according to the data.

“Not only do we retain more of our Tennessee Promise students on a semester by semester basis than we do our non-Promise students, but according to the data, these are the ones that stayed the course to receive their degrees after two years, as well,” said Jamie Hamby, director of financial aid at Cleveland State.

The program’s structure is helping students thrive, he said.

“I think that’s one reason why our Promise students perform as well as they do,” Hamby said. “In order to be a part of Tennessee Promise, you have to be held accountable and be able to meet deadlines, and these students learn that structure very early on.”

Funding models for Promise programs: ETS and the College Promise Campaign plan to release on October 4 a report on designing sustainable funding for Promise initiatives.

About the Author

Holly Trotter-Vincent

is the public information coordinator at Cleveland State Community College in Tennessee.