While there have been a number of Promise programs coming on board in the last year, the statewide Tennessee Promise has gained far more attention than any of them. And the impact of the program — which will fund students for the first time this fall — has reverberated throughout the Volunteer State.
Four-year schools — like the University of Tennessee-Martin — have stepped up efforts to compete for students otherwise exploring the Tennessee Promise option, which provides considerable support for those attending community college.
But now one of the two-year schools — Cleveland State Community College, tucked away not far from Chattanooga and the Georgia state line — has created a benefit for its “adult” learners (generally seen as those over the age of 25) with the establishment of the last-dollar-in Cleveland State Adult Promise Scholarship.
With the state program servicing younger students, the Cleveland State Foundation was compelled to reallocate scholarship funds for its older subset, which often faces greater obstacles in finding financial assistance.
Christy Armstrong of the Cleveland Banner spelled out the guidelines of the new program. “An Adult Promise scholarship recipient must have not been enrolled in college for the past three years or have earned an associate’s degree or higher,” she wrote.
School president Bill Seymour explained the move. “The truth is adult students are a great investment,” he wrote. “Statistics show at Cleveland State as well as many community colleges around the state and country that while adults make up a minority of the student body they actually represent a majority of the graduates. Adult students are typically more focused and motivated resulting in much higher completion rates.”
Herein lies the beauty of a Promise initiative — note only does it incentivize and motivate young students, it triggers discussion about creating opportunities for others. “Every state in the country is looking at Tennessee and what we’re doing,” said President Seymour.