SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Helping high school graduates get the training they need is a top priority for Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.
On Thursday, that dream became closer to being a reality after the governor was at Sullivan Central High School for a ceremonial signing of that bill.
Graduating from high school can be an exciting time, but also a stressful time for some students trying to find money to move on to higher education.
The 'Tennessee Promise' could be the help some have been looking for. "It could help me in many ways. It's going to provide me with a free education at Northeast State, which can help a whole lot of students, but me in particular. I do want to go to school, I do want to be a nurse," says Brianna Lawson.
Lawson is a junior at Sullivan Central High School, and she's already looking ahead to her future; being able to use the 'Tennessee Promise' could mean less debt after college graduation. "It can really help me get rid of my core classes, help pay for that. I can use the money to go towards nursing school," she said.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam says what the law is all about helping students like Lawson excel, get a higher education, and get a job in Tennessee. "We think this is a must if Tennessee is going to have to compete for the jobs that will exist 10 years from now. We have to have the people with the right training," he said.
Haslam says there are no grade requirements for the program other than keeping a 2.0 GPA. "If you graduate from high school, agree to do 8 hours of community service, and work with our mentor, then you can then you qualify for the Tennessee Promise," he explained.
Credits from a community college will transfer to a four-year school. Brianna considers that a bonus on top of saving money. "I won't have to pay the loans back, pay everything back. I can really use the money that I earn for anything I want to use in life," she said.
Governor Haslam tells us that currently, community colleges across the state are at about 60 to 65 percent capacity.
He says this could be a good boost for community colleges. They will be monitoring the four-year schools to make sure they don't suffer as a result.