Tennessee is already providing free community college to recent high school graduates, but now, the state is pushing for their program to include everyone.

On January 30, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced his plan to make community college free for all adults. Following in the footsteps of 2015 legislation that made it free for high-school graduates, the legislation would make Tennessee the first US state to offer tuition-free higher education to everyone, regardless of income or academic background.

The proposal will be put to a vote in the state’s General Assembly later this year.

“We need to reach the working mother that went to college but didn’t complete, or the son with sons of his own who like his dad never went to college but knows that he needs to upgrade his skills,” Haslam said in the address, as first reported by the Tennessean.

The program, known as the Tennessee Promise, will not cost taxpayers a dime. It will be funded by the state’s lottery reserves.

Just as we did with Tennessee Promise, we’re making a clear statement to families: wherever you might fall on life’s path, education beyond high school is critical to the Tennessee we can be,” Haslam said. “At the end of the day, there is no higher potential for providing more opportunity for our citizens than increasing access to high quality education. And the point is, we’re doing it while maintaining discipline and responsibility to the taxpayer – keeping taxes and debt low and saving for when the economy ultimately slows.”

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